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Washington admits Smoak was rushed to Majors

Washington admits Smoak was rushed to Majors

SEATTLE -- Former Rangers first baseman Justin Smoak is back with the Mariners. Smoak was called up from Triple-A on Saturday after Tacoma wrapped up the Pacific Coast League title on Friday night.

The Rangers traded Smoak and three other players to the Mariners on July 9 for pitchers Cliff Lee and Mark Lowe. The Rangers called up Smoak from the Minor Leagues on April 23 and made him their starting first baseman after Chris Davis got off to a poor start.

Smoak, the Rangers' first-round pick in 2008, played 70 games and hit .209 with eight home runs and 34 RBIs in 235 at-bats. Manager Ron Washington admitted the Rangers probably rushed him before he was ready.

"He had to learn on the job and he handled himself very well," Washington said. "At that time there was a need. We needed him to be there and he gave us everything he had. Everybody involved thought he could use more seasoning but it wasn't to be at that time."

The Mariners kept Smoak in the big leagues after the trade, but sent him down after he went 10-for-63 (.159) with two home runs and five RBIs in 16 games. Now he is back with the Mariners.

"I still think he's going to be a very good professional player," Washington said. "He has the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark to all fields. He's a young kid who doesn't mind working. He's a young kid who just needs to play baseball. He has improved tremendously around the first-base bag.

"The more he plays, the more he'll start understanding situations, understanding positioning, understanding the hitters at the plate. He'll learn to control the speed of the game. All of those things you need at the Major League level and he didn't have that before."

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