Smoak close to return; Morse undergoes tests in Seattle

Smoak close to return; Morse undergoes tests in Seattle

SAN DIEGO -- Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak hit in the batting cage and then took batting practice on Wednesday afternoon and said the oblique muscle in his right side is feeling much better and he's close to being game ready.

But right fielder Michael Morse remained behind in Seattle to undergo tests on a strained quadriceps on Wednesday and manager Eric Wedge said the hope is he'll be back in three to five days, possibly rejoining the team Friday in Minnesota.

Smoak felt his oblique tighten up during Saturday's game against the Rangers and hasn't played since.

The 25-year-old said he's fine fielding his position and the main thing holding him back now is being able to swing full-out left-handed.

"Right-handed feels fine," said the switch-hitter. "Left-handed, it's a lot better today than yesterday."

Smoak said he had a similar injury, but much worse, in his first year of pro ball when he missed more than a month at Double-A.

"I've had it before on the left side," he said. "Thank God I was smarter than I normally am. I'm normally going to play through it, but when I felt what I felt, I knew what I had done before and didn't want to feel that again. I tried to get out of there and take care of it."

Smoak said he might be available to pinch-hit on Wednesday, at least right-handed, and certainly feels he'll be ready to help out in the next few days.

"I can pinch-run, too," Smoak said with a grin.

Kendrys Morales got the start at first base again on Wednesday.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.