Tuiasosopo: Hey, what's the big idea?
Justin Smoak missed a bunch of games with a hand injury. He came back and lasted just a few innings before he got his face broken by a groundball. That put him on the disabled list, and most recently he's played a few rehab games in Tacoma. He didn't pick up any hits, but the Mariners don't seem to care, as this afternoon they've officially recalled him and put him in the middle of the lineup for their game against the A's.
Obviously, it doesn't really matter that Smoak went hitless over a limited number of at bats in Triple-A. What matters the most is that Smoak feels healthy, and one figures that Smoak feels healthy enough. Of course, Smoak hasn't been entirely honest about his health in the past, but, whatever, he's probably fine, or mostly fine.
So now we cross our fingers. The Mariners have 26 games remaining in their season. Justin Smoak will presumably play in most of them. Justin Smoak hasn't homered since June 12th. We have hoped and assumed that Smoak's offensive collapse was due to a hand injury that he tried to play through for a long time. He's now had a while to allow his hand(s) to heal up. If we're right about his slump, then Smoak should, in theory, look more like himself between now and the end of the year.
If Smoak hits well over these final few weeks, that'll be reassuring. It will suggest - not prove, but suggest - that he slumped because he was hurt. If Smoak does not hit well over these final few weeks, that'll be the opposite of reassuring. It will suggest - not prove, but suggest - that he slumped for some other reason. Of course, he could also just not hit well over these final few weeks because these final few weeks will present a small sample of games, but really, it'd just be great if Smoak hit. How Smoak does will go a long way towards setting expectations for 2012.
Godspeed, Justin. Here's hoping you murder some dudes. Or, here's hoping you murder some pitches. Do not murder some dudes. Do not murder a single dude! You would get in big trouble!