SEATTLE -- Former Rangers first baseman Justin Smoak is back with the Mariners. Smoak was called up from Triple-A on Saturday after Tacoma wrapped up the Pacific Coast League title on Friday night.The Rangers traded Smoak and three other players to the Mariners on July 9 for pitchers Cliff Lee and Mark Lowe. The Rangers called up Smoak from the Minor Leagues on April 23 and made him their starting first baseman after Chris Davis got off to a poor start. Smoak, the Rangers' first-round pick in 2008, played 70 games and hit .209 with eight home runs and 34 RBIs in 235 at-bats. Manager Ron Washington admitted the Rangers probably rushed him before he was ready. "He had to learn on the job and he handled himself very well," Washington said. "At that time there was a need. We needed him to be there and he gave us everything he had. Everybody involved thought he could use more seasoning but it wasn't to be at that time." The Mariners kept Smoak in the big leagues after the trade, but sent him down after he went 10-for-63 (.159) with two home runs and five RBIs in 16 games. Now he is back with the Mariners. "I still think he's going to be a very good professional player," Washington said. "He has the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark to all fields. He's a young kid who doesn't mind working. He's a young kid who just needs to play baseball. He has improved tremendously around the first-base bag. "The more he plays, the more he'll start understanding situations, understanding positioning, understanding the hitters at the plate. He'll learn to control the speed of the game. All of those things you need at the Major League level and he didn't have that before."
Cantu trying to get on track with Rangers
SEATTLE -- Jorge Cantu was back at first base on Saturday night with left-hander Jason Vargas on the mound for the Mariners. Cantu has been the Rangers' starting first baseman when the opposition throws a left-hander, but they have been facing nothing but right-handers lately.This was Cantu's first start since Sept. 8, and the Rangers will face four straight right-handers after Saturday. Right-hander Doug Fister pitches for the Mariners on Sunday and the Angels are scheduled to go with right-handers Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana and Dan Haren during a three-game series that begins on Monday in Anaheim. "It feels weird," Cantu said. "I'm just happy to being playing. I've been preparing every day and trying to keep loose. Hopefully things will go well." The Rangers need Cantu to get going. They feel a strong need to carry a right-handed-hitting first baseman in the playoffs, whether it's to go against left-handers CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte with the Yankees or David Price with Tampa Bay. But Cantu, who drove in 100 runs for the Marlins last year, went into Saturday's game with just 13 hits in 64 at-bats (.203) since being acquired at the Trade Deadline. He has a double and a triple, but has yet to hit a home run or drive in a run since the trade. "It's been personally tough and challenging trying to stay focused and not lose my timing," Cantu said. "Which is very crucial. I don't want to have to worry about mechanics, just go up there, get it done and hit the ball hard. It's a different role and it's not the easiest thing after being used to playing every day. But at least I'm still getting to play."
Borbon unapologetic about bunt vs. Felix
SEATTLE -- Rangers outfielder Julio Borbon was unapologetic about trying to bunt for a hit in the sixth inning of Friday's game against the Mariners.Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez had a no-hitter going when Borbon came up with one out in the sixth inning. Borbon, who has 13 bunt hits on the year, tried to beat out another one but pushed it almost right at Hernandez and was thrown out easily. The Rangers were trailing 2-0 at the time and the Safeco Field crowd booed Borbon for trying to break up a no-hitter with the bunt. "What was I supposed to do, let him have it his way?" Borbon said Saturday afternoon. "I realize he was throwing a no-hitter, but I wasn't getting out of my game. If the game was one-sided it might be different, but in a close game like that, it could be a difference-maker. "I was trying to get it down and get something going. I wasn't worried about the no-hitter. If we were down six, seven eight runs, I'm going to swing the bat. But down 2-0 in the sixth inning, I don't think I was being disrespectful to him or the game or to anybody. I was trying to do something for the team." Borbon said he didn't hear the crowd booing. "I must have been zoned out thinking about how bad my bunt was," Borbon said.
Rangers concerned about steals vs. Wilson
SEATTLE -- Pitching coach Mike Maddux spent some time looking at the video of C.J. Wilson's start against the Mariners on Friday night. He paid particular attention to Wilson's inability to control the running game. The Mariners stole five bases off of Wilson and he has now allowed 21 this season, the most in the American League against a left-handed pitcher."It's something we need to pay attention to and get corrected," manager Ron Washington said. Washington said Wilson was quick enough to the plate with his pitches. That tells him the Mariners were going on "first move," meaning they were off and running as soon as Wilson began his motion and were not worried about getting picked off. "They were good on their guesses," Washington said. "They picked up on something We've got to figure it out."
Rangers ALDS tickets going fast
SEATTLE -- Playoff tickets are going fast for a possible American League Division Series games at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.As of 6 p.m. CT Saturday, scattered single tickets, obstructed view seats and standing room tickets remain for the first game at Rangers Ballpark, which would be played on either Wednesday, Oct. 6 (first game of ALDS) or Saturday, Oct. 9 (third game). All other reserved seats have been sold. There are approximately 2,500 reserved seats remaining for the Rangers' potential ALDS Home Game 2, which would be played on either Thursday, Oct. 7 (second game) or Sunday, Oct. 10 (fourth game, if necessary). Obstructed view and standing room tickets for Game 2 will be placed on sale once all other reserved seats have been exhausted. Plenty of reserved seats remain for the Rangers' potential ALDS Home Game 3, which would be played on Tuesday, Oct. 12 (fifth game, if necessary) . Tickets can be purchased online at texasrangers.com, on the phone at 972-RANGERS and in person at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington First Base box office. Hours for the phone sale and box office are noon until 4 p.m. CT on Sunday and 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. CT Monday through Friday.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.