Monday, April 6, 2015

Smith opens Mariners career with three extra-base hits

Seth Smith is a man of few words in most circumstances, but he cut it even shorter when asked if people should expect this kind of performance every day after he opened his Mariners career with three extra-base hits in Seattle's 4-1 win against the Angels.
"No," Smith said.
On pace for 324 doubles and 162 triples, Smith likely will cool a bit as the season wears on. But the veteran right fielder carried himself -- and his new team -- quite nicely with his first-impression outing in front of a full house of 45,909 at Safeco Field.
"It's always fun to play well," said Smith, who was acquired from the Padres for reliever Brandon Maurer in December. "To get a win on Opening Day in front of a ton of people, it was my first time playing behind Felix, that was a lot of fun."
Smith hit .266 with 31 doubles, five triples and 12 home runs last year in 136 games for the Padres, and manager Lloyd McClendon likes him as the No. 2 hitter in the lineup against right-handed pitchers, both for his solid career on-base percentage of .347 and his ability to drive the ball in gaps.
That paid off in a hurry Monday as Smith tallied two RBIs, one on his third-inning triple to right and the other on a ground-rule double to left-center in the fifth. Along with a first-inning double, he became the first Mariners player ever to tally three extra-base hits on Opening Day and the first in the Majors sinceGerardo Parra of the D-backs, who had three doubles in the first game of 2013.
Going 3-for-3 with three extra-base hits is nice any day, but on first blush, it's even better.
"Opening Day is special," said Smith. "They're all special, and you learn to appreciate them and enjoy them for what they are. That's a little bit more than a typical normal baseball day. You never know how many you're going to have, so you definitely enjoy the day and the fans. You know how much they enjoy it."
Smith was brought to Seattle to play a role against right-handed pitchers. Even after Smith's three hits, McClendon called in right-handed-hitting Justin Ruggiano to pinch-hit in the seventh when the Angels brought in a left-handed reliever.
McClendon said that was the perfect opportunity to get the better defensive outfielder in the game with a 4-1 lead, as well as let Ruggiano face the southpaw. And he got no argument from Smith.
"It's the way it is," said Smith, who platooned extensively in Oakland on postseason teams in 2012 and '13. "This isn't the first time I've been in that situation. I don't make decisions like that. I'm here to play. When they tell me to play, I play. When they tell me I'm not playing anymore, I'm not playing anymore."
So he'll take his 1.000 batting average and 2.333 slugging percentage and wait for his next turn. And that's not a bad start.

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