Smith finds spot in outfield with Mariners
PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) By now, Seth Smith is used to joining a new team in spring training.
Smith was acquired by Seattle in a trade with San Diego in December, his fourth team in five years.
''At this point, it's not that big of a deal,'' Smith said of being on so many new teams. ''The first time is a little bit weird. But after that you understand that it's a part of it. You never get too comfortable but you show up at the park every day and try to prepare yourself to play.''
Then add in Justin Ruggiano, picked up in a trade in mid-December with the Chicago Cubs. Nelson Cruz signed as a free agent to be the designated hitter, but he will see a little time in right field, manager Lloyd McClendon said Monday. Free-agent signee Rickie Weeks will share time with Dustin Ackley in left field.
Smith will be part of McClendon's modified platoon with Ruggiano, as the left hand-hitting Smith has handles right-handed pitching well (.277) but hits .205 against lefties.
''I try to have a professional at-bat and have a good approach when I'm up there,'' Smith said. ''Let it take care of itself. If you make enough hard contact, the balls are going to find a place to land.''
Smith has a career .800 OPS and a .265 batting average. He had 48 extra-base hits in 2014 with the Padres, his highest total since getting 56 for Colorado in 2011. He's also played in four postseasons.
The Mariners sent Brandon Maurer, one of their prized young pitchers, to the Padres for Smith.
''Competing against him, he was always a guy that I liked and was impressed with being on the other side,'' McClendon said. ''When Jack (Zduriencik, GM) told me that there was an opportunity we might be able to get him, I was excited. But now, to get something good you have to give up something good, and we gave up a quality arm to get him.''
Smith is signed for two years with an option for 2017, so he'll be counted on to produce right away for a team with playoff aspirations this season. He stoically goes about his business every day in spring training, believing that getting his work in and preparing for the season is of more importance than getting acclimated to new surroundings, for now.
''There's different dynamics in each clubhouse but ultimately they're the same,'' Smith said. ''Guys coming to work, playing baseball and trying to win games.''
NOTES: The Mariners' intrasquad game scheduled for Monday was canceled due to inclement weather. Rain soaked the area in the morning and forced the team to move workouts out of the precipitation. ... LHP James Paxton, who went 6-4 with a 3.04 ERA last season despite missing four months, is almost back from a forearm injury. He said he threw in the batting cage as well as long toss with no pain Monday. He'll throw from flat ground again on Tuesday and hopes to pitch a bullpen session on Friday. ... McClendon said Weeks will also start taking groundballs at first base this spring to be the backup first baseman to Logan Morrison.