Smoak, Morse close to returning to lineup

Smoak, Morse close to returning to lineup

SAN DIEGO -- First baseman Justin Smoak wasn't in the starting lineup for Thursday's series finale against the Padres, but could be ready by Friday in Minnesota as he recovers from a tight oblique muscle, according to manager Eric Wedge.

Meanwhile, right fielder Michael Morse will rejoin the team in Minneapolis on Friday after staying behind in Seattle for tests and treatment on a strained quadriceps muscle.

"You'll see him tomorrow, but I don't think you'll see him in the lineup," Wedge said prior to Thursday's game at Petco Park. "It'll probably be a long shot [for Friday], but we'll go from there."

As for Smoak? He pinch-hit in the eighth inning on Thursday and is able to swing fully right-handed, but is still working to regain full extension left-handed.

"He's close, just not yet," Wedge said. "We got him in yesterday and gave him a chance to hit a homer in that situation [a 1-1 tie]. You've got to do that. The guy threw him a couple changeups, so he was a little out front, but the batting practice was encouraging yesterday. We still need to get him a little further along, so we'll see how his work goes today and where he's at."

"But I don't think he's too far away from hitting left-handed. And when I say not too far away, I'm hoping as early as tomorrow."

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.