PEORIA, Ariz. – The three-month Cliff Lee, uh, era is destined to go down forever as one of the great “what-might-have-beens” in Seattle Mariners history.
But while Lee may be gone, the legacy of his short Seattle tenure lives on in the form of the three players the Mariners received in a trade with Texas last July.
Two – first baseman Justin Smoak and starting pitcher Blake Beavan – helped lead the Mariners to a 10-2 exhibition win Saturday over the Oakland Athletics.
Smoak hit a two-run homer and a two-run single in his best game of the spring, while Beavan got his first start and gave up a run over three innings to get the win.
The Mariners also received reliever Josh Lueke, who is making a bid to be in the bullpen come opening day.
It’s Smoak – a switch-hitter whom the Mariners hope will take over the first-base job for good – whose success or failure may well determine how the trade is perceived decades from now, though he says he tries not to look at it that way.
“Hopefully, there is always some kind of pressure,” he said. “Cliff Lee is a great pitcher and we got a lot of guys for him, not just me. Blake Beavan had a good day today, and Lueke has been throwing well. It’s not just me that came over for him, it’s a few more guys, and if we can all play well and do what we are capable of doing there is good things to come here in the future.”
Coming into Saturday, Smoak was hitting .111 (2 of 18) with two singles.
But he doubled each of those totals against the A’s, walking his first two times up, rapping a two-run single in the fourth and then a two-run homer to left-center in the sixth.
The Mariners made their first cuts of the spring, slimming the camp from 64 to 58. Left-handed pitcher Mauricio Robles, infielder Alex Liddi and outfielder Carlos Peguero were optioned to Triple-A Tacoma, outfielder Johermyn Chavez was optioned to Double-A Jackson, and right-handed pitcher Yusmeiro Petit and left-handed pitcher James Paxton were reassigned to minor league camp. … Jason Vargas gets his third start of the spring today against the Angels at Tempe at 1 p.m. Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger is also scheduled to get his first action.
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