Zduriencik says Smoak ‘needed a change of scenery’

Jul 24, 2012, 10:56 AM | Updated: 4:18 pm
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By Brady Henderson

Justin Smoak is heading down to Triple-A Tacoma to work on whatever has contributed to his horrendous offensive performance in 2012.

The way Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik sees it, the struggling first baseman wasn’t going to fix anything at the major-league level.

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Justin Smoak

“When you think about Justin and you think about how difficult it is once you’re really in a rut here at the big-league level, to try to get out of it is tough. It’s really tough,” Zduriencik told “Brock and Salk” on Tuesday. “As we said to him here in the room last night, ‘Sometimes, Justin, you take a step backwards to take two steps forward.'”

Smoak is hitting .189 with 13 home runs and 38 RBIs this season, and his struggles have been even more pronounced the last week. He’s hitless with nine strikeouts in his last 16 at-bats, which included an 0-for-3 night on Monday.

Zduriencik said he and manager Eric Wedge considered sending Smoak down before the All-Star break but decided to wait and see if he would benefit from the days off. Smoak hit home runs in consecutive games against the Royals, but he’s hitting just .093 in 11 games since the break.

“He needed a change of scenery,” Zduriencik said. “He just needed to clear his head.”

Zduriencik used Toronto’s Adam Lind as an example of a first baseman who benefited from a demotion to Triple-A. Lind spent five weeks in the minors and has raised his OPS 133 points since he was recalled.

Zduriencik isn’t putting a timetable on Smoak’s return.

“As we said to Justin last night, ‘Hey, it could be 10 days, it could be two weeks, it could be a month. A lot of it depends on you, how you go down there and handle this and your preparation to get back up here,'” Zduriencik said.

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Zduriencik says Smoak ‘needed a change of scenery’