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Young Mariners under increased pressure to produce

As the start of the Mariners season approaches, the pressure is on at least several young players to start carrying more of the load.

On Thursday’s edition of the Bob and Groz Show, former Mariners third basemen and analyst Mike Blowers told the guys he expects an improved performance from those who struggled last season including both Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak.

Bob and Groz say Ackley still has a honeymoon period heading into his second full season, especially after a nagging ankle injury hampered him last year. Ackley finished the season hitting just .226 with 12 homers and 50 RBI. But after undergoing off season surgery to remove bone spurs from his ankle, expectations are higher for the second overall pick in the 2009 draft.

But both Bob and Groz agree the honeymoon is long over for Justin Smoak. Smoak, coming off a second straight disappointing season that saw him hit just .217 with 19 homers and 51 RBI, needs to “win or go home” according to Groz.

If Spring Training is any indication, things are looking up for Smoak. As Blowers pointed out, the switch hitter has had a strong start, hitting .390 with 3 home runs and 8 RBI so far.

In today’s Bob and Groz show video wrap up, the guys discuss what both Ackley and Smoak need to do and whether Smoak ends up getting traded, benched or sent down to the minors if he doesn’t start delivering.