Smoak slugs first homer for Tacoma


First baseman Justin Smoak hit his first home run for Triple-A Tacoma last week, but the former Stratford High School and South Carolina standout still is struggling to find his way with the bat.

Smoak batted .167 in his first seven games for Tacoma after being sent down by the Mariners. He hit a solo homer against Iowa last Wednesday.

A first-round draft pick by the Rangers in 2008, Smoak was traded to the Mariners last month and was hitting .198 in 86 major league games when he was demoted to Tacoma.

But at least one player has little doubt that Smoak will figure things out.

"He's the future," veteran first baseman Mike Sweeney said before he was traded by the Mariners to Philadelphia. "I think a couple of years from now, Mariners fans are going to look back on this trade with Cliff Lee and see Justin Smoak tearing it up."

Smoak admitted to that there was an adjustment period after he was traded from the contending Rangers to the struggling Mariners.

"The biggest challenge after the trade is getting used to your new surroundings and teammates," Smoak said. "It's difficult when you know a certain group of guys, they are playing well. You are on top of the world. Then you get traded and it takes your breath away."

But Smoak remains confident.

"I will start hitting the way I know I can," he said. "I feel good one week and bad the next two weeks. All I have to do is find something that works and stick with it. I will find it and the sooner the better."

Extra bases

--Another first baseman making an adjustment to new surroundings is Chris McGuiness (The Citadel), traded from the Red Sox to the Rangers. McGuiness went from Greenville to Class A Bakersfield in the California League and is batting .235 with three RBIs after five games with the Blaze. He's hitting .294 with 12 homers and 49 RBIs overall this season.

--Pitcher Jesse Simpson (College of Charleston) has been promoted to high-Class A Palm Beach by the Cardinals after going 3-2 with a 2.87 ERA and four saves at Quad Cities.

--Second baseman Joey Bergman (College of Charleston) is on a roll at Class A Batavia in the New York-Penn League, hitting .395 with four doubles and seven RBIs over the last 10 games for the Cardinals' affiliate.

--Pitcher Heath Hembree (College of Charleston) has signed with the Giants and is beginning his pro career in the rookie Arizona League. Hembree has not allowed a run in three innings, giving up three hits and no walks with five strikeouts.

--Pitcher Mike Cisco (Wando HS/USC) got back on the winning track with a sparkling performance against Akron last Sunday, giving up just three hits and one run over seven innings. He walked none and struck out four to improve to 3-7 with a 4.48 ERA for the Double-A Reading Phillies.