SEATTLE -- Things didn't go according to plan in Justin Smoak's debut.In his first day with the Mariners, Smoak went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. It was a disappointing start for a player who arrived in Seattle amid high hopes that came with being part of the trade for ace left-hander Cliff Lee. He was brought in to be the club's regular first baseman, but he took a step back from that role in Sunday's series finale against the Yankees. Manager Don Wakamatsu deployed Smoak as the designated hitter and started Casey Kotchman at first. Wakamatsu said the switch allows Smoak a chance to rest after arriving from Texas on Saturday, as well as giving usual designated hitter Russell Branyan an extra day off heading into the All-Star break. Of course, it also lets Smoak focus on what the Mariners desperately need him to do: hit. He mostly faced offspeed pitches on Saturday, and Wakamatsu said he expects that to continue. "I keep trying to get people to understand, this kid is just starting his career, really," Wakamatsu said. "To be traded and come over with the expectations and all those things, he's got to work some things out. We've seen him, and I've seen him. He's awfully impressive, but we're going to have to be patient with him."
Bedard remains a mystery for second half
SEATTLE -- The Mariners' starting rotation still has an open spot, and while they'd like Erik Bedard to fill it, it's not sure thing that'll happen.After the All-Star break, Seattle will start Doug Fister, Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith and Jason Vargas in a four-game series against the Angels in Anaheim. The next game -- at home against the White Sox -- is up in the air, and Bedard seems less and less likely to take the mound in that game. Bedard was slated to "play catch" on Sunday and will throw a bullpen session during the series in Anaheim. Manager Don Wakamatsu said it's possible Bedard would need a Minor League rehab start before coming back. He was expected to return July 6 against the Royals, but shoulder stiffness derailed the plan. "What we care about is him getting back out there. I don't think you can force the issue. You just have to take it day by day. Hopefully today he feels better and we can move along."
Tough schedule part of Mariners' problem
SEATTLE -- The Mariners' spotty offense has been the main cause of their problems this season, but their first-half schedule didn't help matters much.In its first 88 games (counting Sunday), Seattle played 60 games against non-American League West opponents. Of those, 42 were against teams that currently have records of .500 or better, 40 came against teams leading or within 5 games of a division lead, and 24 were against first-place teams. By contrast, the AL West-leading Rangers played just seven of their 67 non-division games against first-place teams, and they had 40 contests against teams who currently trail their division leaders by 10 games or more. Things won't get much better after the break, as the Mariners face teams above .500 in their next 21 games.
With his performance in the Mariners' 4-1 win on Saturday, Felix Hernandez became the third pitcher in club history to allow 10 hits but hold a team to one run or less in a complete-game win. The last Seattle pitcher to do it was Mike More in 1987. ... Mariners prospects Alex Liddi and Carlos Peguero will both suit up in the XM All-Star Futures Game Sunday in Anaheim.
Mike McCall is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.