Blue Jays Spring Training: Justin Smoak On Fire
The first base situations is getting more interesting. That is, if you put stock in such a small sample size that Blue Jays Spring Training provides. If you do, you may be interested in the bit of a smaller sample size that Justin Smoak provided for the Blue Jays to consider.
Toronto Blue Jays
Smoak had a great day at the plate against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday. In the top of the 3rd inning, he stepped up to the plate with Daric Barton on base. He clubbed a home run to right field to bring the score to 4-1. The fact that Barton was in the game is another interesting note, which we’ll get to in a bit. In the 5th inning, Smoak hit his second homer of the game to right field. This time was a solo shot. In total, Smoak went 2-5 with 2 HR, 3 RBI to bring his average up to .129. His day could have been even better as he left 4 baserunners on base.
Up until this point, Smoak hadn’t really impressed much at all. In fact, it was questionable that he’d even been doing enough to earn a roster spot in 2015. Perhaps a day like today can be a performance upon which to build. If he can use this to propel him forward, the 1st base situation could become interesting.
UPDATE: Here’s the video:
With Edwin Encarnacion experiencing back inflammation, it is questionable that he would be physically up to playing everyday at 1B. (Adam Lind, anyone?) Leaving aside what the Blue Jays will do with Dioner Navarro, Edwin will likely see his time at DH. So, the Blue Jays will need someone to step in and play 1st. But, as of right now, who that is remains a huge question mark.
Another candidate is Daric Barton. He had a good game as well, going 2-2 with a walk, a run and an RBI form the DH spot. Yet, like Smoak, he’ll have to work pretty hard to convince the team’s brass that today is not just a fluke. On the spring, he’s not exactly tearing the cover off the ball. In 27 at bats, he’s hitting just .148 with 4 RBI.
Another option may be to work Danny Valencia into the equation. He homered in Thursday’s win over the Red Sox. His success against left handed pitching make him too valuable to ignore. However, none of these options presents a quick fix to the concern surrounding first base. Smoak and Barton each bring a solid glove to the table (the edge going to Barton). Edwin Encarnacion is the de facto first baseman, but his health makes many fans wonder if he will get the lion’s share of the work there.
Some say that Spring Training games are meaningless. Others look at this warm up period as a chance to win a job on the big league roster. Thus far, Justin Smoak and Daric Barton haven’t really done much to win said job. Perhaps with more days like today, they can convince the Blue Jays to take a longer look and think on it a bit more.