Ex-Stratford High School star Justin Smoak demoted to AAA by Seattle Mariners

Justin Smoak, a former Stratford High School and South Carolina standout, has been demoted to AAA by the Seattle Mariners. (AP Photo/File)

Staff report

Seattle Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak, a former Stratford High School and University of South Carolina standout, has been demoted to Class AAA by the Seattle Mariners.

Smoak was sent down to Tacoma late Monday, batting .189 and in the midst of an 0-for-19 slump.

“Hey, this is for (Justin),’’ Mariners manager Eric Wedge told reporters. “This is what we feel like is the right thing to do for him right now to give him a break, to give him a different environment without the pressure of the big leagues.

“To where he can go down there and work to get on track, to find it. And to find it with some consistency.’’

Smoak was told of the demotion in a post-game meeting Monday night after a 4-1 loss to the Yankees.

“I think everybody’s seen what’s been going on,’’ Smoak said. “It’s just one of those things where you go down there, get your work in and I get back to where I was a couple of months ago.

“It’s a matter of just getting that feel and finding something day-in and day-out that gets you to where you want to be.’’