SEATTLE -- The Mariners need Justin Smoak's power bat in the middle of their lineup, to the point where manager Eric Wedge has kept penciling him in even as the power has dropped in recent weeks.But Wedge decided Friday his young first baseman needs a break, as he's gone just 1-for-22 over the past six games and hasn't hit a home run since June 12 in Detroit, a streak of 25 games without a long ball. Though Smoak still leads the club in RBIs with 42 and shares the home run lead with Miguel Olivo at 12, his batting average has dropped to .229. Thus, Wedge gave Smoak the day off Friday against Texas, even though the club is just one game out of the All-Star break and Smoak was used at designated hitter on Thursday in an effort to lighten his load. "I'm convinced a lot of this is just him getting fatigued and I have to take responsibility for that, too," Wedge said. "You pretty much have to do what you have to do when you're trying to score runs. We knew the break was coming, so give him a little break and get him back in there. I'm convinced he'll have a pretty good second half for us." Smoak has hit some balls hard in recent days. He flew out to the outfield three straight times Thursday before singling in his final at-bat to break an 0-for-21 stretch. "I honestly haven't felt that bad," said the 25-year-old. "It's just one of those things you go through and hopefully something will turn around here." Smoak insists he isn't physically tired from the daily grind of being a full-time starter for the first time. "Not really. You want to play every day," he said. "That's what I want to do, and that's the plan. But it's a long year. It's my first full year here, so it's one of those things where he wants to give me a few days. He wanted to do that earlier in the year, but he just couldn't do it." Wedge said the rest day was "pre-planned" in order to maximize the All-Star break, though he wanted to give Smoak a shot at left-hander Derek Holland on Thursday. Smoak is hitting .283 from the right side, .206 from the left. "He'll be back in there the next couple days [as Texas comes with two more lefties]," Wedge said. "I'm just a big believer in when you come out of the break, what you do before and after is only the real opportunity to give somebody extended time to rest or work on something. And that's what we're doing with Smoaker. "I think back to earlier in the year and just felt his timing was better, he was staying through the ball a little better and barreling up the ball better. He's such a good hitter. I think sometimes we forget how young he is and the fact this is his first full year. A lot of what he's going through right now is just the league making adjustments to him."
Aardsma to undergo Tommy John surgery
SEATTLE -- Seattle closer David Aardsma will undergo Tommy John surgery after Mariners medical director Edward Khalfayan reviewed his MRI results Thursday. He will miss the rest of the season.Aardsma will have the elbow ligament replacement procedure done in California late next week by Lewis Yocum, the Los Angeles Angels team physician. "Unfortunately my season is over," the 29-year-old Aardsma tweeted on Friday. "I guess I wasn't meant to pitch this year. I will undergo elbow surgery next week. "I can say we've exhausted every avenue before we made this decision. But I WILL BE back and ready next year. Thank you all for your support." It's tough news to swallow for Aardsma, who had been working his way back to the mound after undergoing hip surgery this past offseason. He missed all of Spring Training due to the hip operation and began rehabbing in the Minor Leagues, he suffered a forearm injury and was shut down in May. Aardsma had tried rehabbing the forearm injury since May in hopes that his elbow would heal on its own.
Last week, Seattle manager Eric Wedge was optimistic of Aardsma's recovery process."He's feeling pretty good," Wedge said on July 8. "He looked good. He's making progress. We're now getting to the point in time where we'll see how it's going to play out. We've been down this road before with him. I think we're getting far along enough now that we'll find out if he's going to be able to play." Brandon League has assumed the closer role for the Mariners, and his 23 saves resulted in League's first All-Star appearance last week in Phoenix. Aardsma began his career in 2004 with San Francisco. He's compiled 69 saves since becoming Mariners closer in 2009, good for the fourth most in club history.
Wedge: 'We're going to figure it out'
SEATTLE -- Eric Wedge has spent more than half a season watching his Mariners struggle. The team ranks last in the American League in virtually every offensive category, and the first-year manager said Friday it's up to his players to make changes to solve the problems."There are a lot of positive things going on here," Wedge said in a strong pregame talk with reporters in the dugout. "Hitting isn't one of them." But Wedge isn't ready to write this off simply as a club without enough offensive firepower. "We're going to figure it out," he said. "We're going to find out who is going to sink or swim. If you're up here, if you're not hitting pitches and squaring up pitches that you should, then it's just not going to happen. It's been that way for 100 years. "It's not just a little bit this way or that way. As bad as we've been offensively, that's not where we are. Where we are is we've got to make some changes. A little bit of adjustment here or there isn't going to get it done." Wedge sounded as if he's done making excuses. He said the problem is not effort or work ethic or attitude. "It's not the umpire," he said. "It's not always the opposing pitcher. It's ultimately them. They've got the bat in the hand, they're in the box. They're in control of their own destiny." What bothers Wedge most is seeing players take the same approach, day after day, if they aren't getting results. He said he still believes in his squad, but he wants to see improvement. "All I want to see is a little progress each day with each individual, which collectively will add up," he said. "Each individual has to look in the mirror and be honest with themselves. ... You can't mask it. Either that or you're just not good enough. It's one or the other."
McLemore reminisces on magical 2001
SEATTLE -- Just one night before the 10th anniversary celebration of the 2001 Mariners club that won a record-tying 116 games, "supersub" Mark McLemore sat in the home dugout and was asked of his favorite memory of that special season.His answer was simple. "Winning," said McLemore, now an analyst for the Texas Rangers. "That group won more games in baseball than anybody. That means a lot. We didn't win a World Series, but we had fun trying to win." And win they did. Nearly every member of the 2001 squad that won more than any team in history -- the 1906 Cubs are the only other team that won 116 games in one season -- will be on hand for Saturday's pregame ceremony on the field. McLemore threw out the first pitch for Friday's game against the Rangers, as the first 20,000 fans were given a bobblehead of McLemore and Mike Cameron hoisting the American flag, a salute to team's postgame celebration on the field after it had clinched a playoff berth just a few days after the tragic events of 9/11. The 46-year-old McLemore says that carrying the flag around Safeco Field was one of the best memories of his life, in or out of baseball. "At that time, it wasn't us celebrating with ourselves or with our fans, it was all of us celebrating with the world, very tastefully and respectfully," he said. "It was a very special moment for me, not as a ballplayer, but as an American." Lou Piniella, Edgar Martinez, Bret Boone and the majority of the 2001 team will be honored prior Saturday's first pitch. Who is McLemore most excited to see? "Everybody," he said quickly. "That's one of the things that made our team so special. We didn't have quit and everybody got along with everybody. Everybody spent time with everybody. It was just a lot of fun."
Mariners reliever Shawn Kelley threw 27 pitches in his first full bullpen session Thursday since reinjuring his elbow as he returns from partial Tommy John surgery. Kelley said he threw all fastballs, but will mix in some sliders in his next bullpen work on Sunday. Manager Eric Wedge said left-hander Erik Bedard will throw a bullpen session in the next few days, then have one more similar workout next week in order to be ready to return from his sprained left knee during the middle of the upcoming nine-day road trip. Bedard's fill-in, rookie Blake Beavan, is scheduled to make his third Major League start Sunday against the Rangers. If Bedard replaces him in the rotation, he'd be in line to start July 23 in Boston. The Mariners were the only team in the American League that had not allowed an unearned run in July, going into Friday's game. Friday marked the 12th birthday for Safeco Field, which opened July 15, 1999, when the Mariners hosted the Padres. The Mariners were 538-446 (.547) in the park going into Friday's game with Texas.
Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. Taylor Soper is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.