CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - Stratford High grad Justin Smoakis entering his fifth year in the major leagues. Last year before the All Starbreak was the best he's played in his career.
However, after the break it was quite the opposite tale.
Now he's working out in Charleston with the Citadel Bulldogsand hoping to make it through a full 162-game season.
"By the end of October, I started working out again,getting in there four days a week, picked up a bat by the end of November. Igot swings in at The Citadel. Coach Jordan is kind enough to let me come out,so it's been good," Smoak said.
With these guys, he's just one of the guys. In Seattle, he'sa guy an entire city is leaning on for quality innings at first base.
"It depends, some days you go out and nobody knows whoyou are. Other days, 10 people will. Now we won the Super Bowl. It's big --everyone in Seattle is into it. Picking up Robinson Cano, having a few otherguys, everyone is excited for baseball season," he said.
And for Smoak, the key to a productive body of work is inproducing a healthy body when he arrives at camp.
"If I stay healthy and stay on the field, good things willhappen. I've worked on things on both sides of the plate, so struggles aren'tso bad," he said.
Spring camp will be all about competition. The Mariners arebringing in two other guys who can play first base.
"Going in there knowing it's my job and I know what I'mcapable of doing. If I do it, I don't have to worry about anything," Smoaksaid.
All he's worried about now is another few days at home, justbeing Justin.