It was annouced earlier that Justin Smoak will be recalled from Triple-A Tacoma, following his recent rehab stint for his strained oblique. In accordance with the move, corner infielder Alex Liddi will be sent back down to Triple-A, which has been his off and on home for the past couple of seasons.
Smoak played in 5 games with Tacoma, hitting .238/.273/.333 with a couple of doubles. That obviously doesn’t mean much however, so take it as a grain of salt.
As for Liddi, it was only a matter of time until he returned to his pseudo-home of Tacoma. As tradition, he struggled in his brief playing time during his call-up. In just 18 at bats he had just one hit, while striking out 7 times. He will return to AAA as he tries to make himsef into more than a organization filler, but that is unlikely to happen. He has been about average with the Rainiers this year, so I wouldn’t expect much moving forward.
While this move may seem pretty cut and dry, there are some larger implications at hand. As if the team was not already filled with enough 1B/DH types, Michael Morse seems to still be suffering from an injury, while Kendrys Morales just returned from one of his own. Morse may not see much time in the outfield for a little while, so that leaves three guys for two spots.
Morales obviously deserves to play as much as he can, so that leaves the other two batting for time. While Morse has been underwhelming himself this year, he has fared better at the plate than Smoak has. He currently has a 118 wRC+, to Smoak’s 105.
Defensively however, it is a different story. By most accounts, Smoak is average or better at 1st. Morse? Not so much. It all depends on what the team is going for. Offense seems to be the main priority, as the outfield defense has been terrible. That suggests Morse will get the majority of the time, until he is able to return to the outfield.
However, this team has stuck with Smoak this long, and may like what he has been able to do in terms of getting on base. The most likely case is some kind of time share. I am not saying they will split it evenly into thirds, but I doubt any of the three will be relegated to full time bench duty.
It will be interesting to see how the M’s decide to handle the problem that they created, and that was bound to pop up at some point. In my opinion, Smoak belongs on the bench as a late inning defensive replacement and pinch hitter. But I doubt the M’s and I will see eye to eye.