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Smoak: The big Seattle switch

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Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times has a look at the newest Mariner, former Gamecock Justin Smoak. Click here to read.

An offhand idea by a baseball-loving father helped Justin Smoak develop the switch-hitting ability that has scouts throughout baseball drooling with anticipation.

The new Mariners first baseman arrived in town Saturday afternoon, fresh off a trade from the Texas Rangers the day before that sent pitcher Cliff Lee to the Lone Star State. Smoak's switch-hitting power and rapid rise to the majors since being drafted 11th overall out of South Carolina two years ago has drawn comparisons with New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira.

But that ability to hit from both sides of the plate might never have happened if not for Smoak's father, Keith.

"I was a naturally right-handed hitter and hitting left-handed, he taught me how to do everything," Smoak, 24, said. "He really wanted me to try it. I tried it, it kind of stuck and it's been really good for me."

Smoak was born a left-hander, which is how he writes and throws.


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