16 Sep

on this date

On Sept. 16, 2007, Seth Smith — a September call-up by the Colorado Rockies — made his big league debut, launching an 11-year career that should have gotten more acclaim than it did. The left-handed hitting outfielder, a Hillcrest Christian and Ole Miss alumnus, went 0-for-2 in that first game but went 5-for-6 thereafter, making enough of an impression that the Rockies kept him on their postseason roster. He was 3-for-6 with two RBIs and two runs as a pinch hitter as the Rockies rolled into the World Series before losing to Boston. Ten years later, early in his final season, Smith hit a big home run that won a game for Baltimore. “It was a good, professional at-bat,'” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said at the time. “He’s a good guy to have up in that situation.” That would be a great summation of Smith’s career. He batted .261 with a .344 on-base percentage, banging out 126 homers among his 934 career hits, scoring 525 runs and driving in 458 while playing for five different organizations. Soft-spoken and deeply religious, Smith never sought the limelight. He never made an All-Star team or won a World Series ring, but he had a positive impact everywhere he went. He played on four teams that reached the postseason, batting .262 with four homers, and on six winning clubs overall. In his last season, with the ’17 Orioles, Smith batted .258 with 13 homers in 111 games. He played his last game on his 35th birthday, Sept. 30. Then he retired — with no fanfare, no formal announcement — and returned to Mississippi, settling into family life.

08 Apr

that’s the ticket

Jackson native Seth Smith’s first home run for Baltimore was one to remember. His two-run shot in the seventh inning at Camden Yards on Friday capped the Orioles’ rally from a four-run deficit and led to a 6-5 win over the New York Yankees. Smith, an Ole Miss alum, is 3-for-8 for his new team, the fifth he has played for in the majors. Baltimore traded for Smith to boost its on-base efficiency; his power could be a bonus. After being limited by a hamstring issue in spring training, the left-handed hitting Smith appears healthy now. “It’s just fun to be a part of a lineup like this,” he told the Baltimore Sun.

06 Jan

head east

Seth Smith will wear another hat in 2017. If you’re counting, that’ll be his fifth in 11 years in the big leagues. The Ole Miss alum and Jackson native has been traded from Seattle to Baltimore for pitcher Yovani Gallardo. Smith, a lefty-hitting corner outfielder, is 34 and in the last year of a three-year contract. He batted .249 with 16 homers and 63 RBIs for the Mariners in 2016, his second year with that club. He has previously played for Colorado, Oakland and San Diego. Smith has been a serviceable player in his MLB career, with 113 homers and a .261 average, though he is limited because he doesn’t hit lefties. His bat should benefit from playing in Camden Yards and those other American League East parks. Plus, he gets to play for Buck Showalter.

19 Sep

setting a course

At 33, Seth Smith is not quite an ancient Mariner. But he is a veteran on the Seattle team, with over 1,000 games in the big leagues and four postseason voyages. The former Hillcrest Christian and Ole Miss star is helping steer the Mariners toward their first postseason trip in 15 years. Smith hit two home runs on Sunday as the M’s beat visiting Houston 7-3 in one of several big showdowns between playoff contenders. Seattle is 79-70, just 2 games behind Toronto, which occupies the second wild card seat in the American League, with a huge series looming against the Blue Jays, also at Safeco Field. Smith, a big leaguer since 2007, has 16 homers, one shy of his career-best, and 60 RBIs, which is a career-high. He has hit 12 of his homers at Safeco. A recent hot streak (.342 over his last 15 games) has lifted his average to .264. The lefty-hitting Smith figures to start at least two of the three games against the Blue Jays, including tonight’s contest against Marco Estrada. P.S. Ex-Southern Miss standout Brian Dozier extended his hitting streak to 22 games for Minnesota on Sunday. “I couldn’t care less, to be honest with you,” he told mlb.com about the streak, which he kept alive with one hit in a 3-2 loss to the New York Mets, the Twins’ 95th L of the year.

08 Sep

that’ll work

Slumping Seattle tried something different on Wednesday. Slumping Seth Smith, the former Hillcrest Christian and Ole Miss standout, batted leadoff for just the second time this season. He responded with three hits, including his 13th homer, and three runs to help the Mariners beat Texas 8-3. The Mariners moved to 71-68 and are 5 games out of an American League wild card spot. Mariners manager Scott Servais told mlb.com that he was just trying to get Smith going by putting him in the top spot in the order: “He hasn’t really been the true Seth Smith in the second half.” The left-handed hitting Smith, who bats almost exclusively against right-handers, was at .280 with 10 homers on July 3. After going 3-for-3 on Wednesday, he is now batting .263. The homer was his second in as many nights, and he has 51 RBIs. Seattle, facing a steep climb in the postseason chase, needs his bat. … In another MLB game of note, former Pillow Academy star Louis Coleman was one of seven – count ’em, seven — relievers used by the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 3-1 win against Arizona. Coleman struck out the only batter he faced, was credited with his 10th hold and trimmed his ERA to 3.59. P.S. Minor highlights: Stone County High product D.J. Davis scored the go-ahead run in the 15th inning as Dunedin beat Tampa 8-4 in the Florida State League playoffs. Davis reached on a passed ball strikeout, went to second on a walk, took third on an error and scored on a wild pitch. Former Petal High star Anthony Alford had two hits and scored three times for Dunedin, a Toronto affiliate. … Southern Miss alum Bradley Roney struck out eight of the 10 batters he faced in a scoreless relief appearance, helping the Gwinnett Braves beat Columbus 5-4 in an International League playoff opener.

04 Jul

streak show

Whatever the Baltimore Orioles’ plan was for pitching to Seth Smith during the four-game series at Seattle, they need to rip it up and try something different. Smith, the ex-Ole Miss star, homered in all four games at Safeco Field, including hitting his first career grand slam on Sunday as the Mariners finished off a sweep. Smith said he made some minor adjustments in his swing recently and is on a 17-for-44 tear ever since. He is batting .280 with 10 homers and 38 RBIs for the surging M’s. … Southern Miss product Brian Dozier tripled on Sunday for Minnesota, extending his on-base streak to 25 games. Dozier is batting .380 with 19 RBIs over that span and has boosted his numbers to .262 with 11 homers, 41 RBIs. He just might make another All-Star Game. … Mississippi State alum Adam Frazier got his first career double and triple for Pittsburgh, helping the Pirates beat Oakland 6-3 for their fourth straight win. Frazier is 7-for-14 in seven games since his call-up. … Tim Anderson, the former East Central Community College star, had two more hits for the Chicago White Sox in a win over Houston. Anderson, batting .300, has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games and 17 of 22 since he was called up. … Enduring a different kind of streak is ex-State standout Mitch Moreland, who has been stuck on 99 career home runs since June 19, a span of 12 games for the Amory native. He is batting .229 with 11 homers and 34 RBIs for Texas.

02 Jul

timing is everything

If you’re going to watch Seth Smith play, you should catch him at home, at Seattle’s Safeco Field, and against a right-hander, which he faces almost exclusively. And catch him when he’s hot, of course, like now. The former Ole Miss standout from Jackson homered for the second straight game on Friday as the Mariners beat American League East leader Baltimore for the second straight time at Safeco. The lefty-swinging Smith is batting .362 over his last 15 games and has six hits in his last three games. For the year, he is at .272 with eight homers and 30 RBIs. At home, he is hitting .298 with six homers, and against right-handers, he’s batting .284 with all eight of his homers and 27 of the RBIs. The Mariners face Buck Showalter’s Orioles again tonight at Safeco, and Baltimore’s scheduled starter is right-hander Tyler Wilson. Seattle is 41-39, battling to keep AL West leader Texas in its sights. The M’s trail the Rangers by 10½ games. P.S. East Central Community College product Tim Anderson got some love on MLB Network’s Quick Pitch show today for drawing the first walk of his big league career on Thursday. It came in his 86th plate appearance for the Chicago White Sox. Anderson did not walk in Friday’s game – or get a hit – but the rookie leadoff man is batting .300 with three homers, 14 runs, five RBIs and a couple of steals while also playing some sharp shortstop over 20 games. The White Sox apparently are pleased. “He’s quiet, but there’s a confidence and a drive,” ChiSox manager Robin Ventura told CBSChicago.com.

30 Apr

mr. 100

The 100th home run of Seth Smith’s big league career will certainly be memorable. The former Ole Miss standout from Jackson hit the milestone bomb on Friday night, giving Seattle a 1-0 win over visiting Kansas City. It was the only hit the Mariners got. The victory went to Seattle ace Felix Hernandez and was the 145th of his career, which matches Jamie Moyer for the most in franchise history. The left-handed hitting Smith went deep against righty Kris Medlen, the former Mississippi Braves star, in the sixth inning. The ball just got over the wall in right field at Safeco Field and was just out of the reach of the Royals’ Jarrod Dyson, the Southwest Mississippi Community College product from McComb. Smith’s first career homer came in 2008 with Colorado. He has also homered for Oakland and San Diego. And if you were wondering, 91 of his homers have come against right-handers.

22 Sep

doing his part

This hasn’t been the season that was predicted for the Seattle Mariners. This was a team expected by many to win the American League West, or at least make the playoffs. Not happening. It’s late September and Seattle, an 87-game winner in 2014, sits in fourth place with a 73-77 record, out of the playoff picture largely because of a terrible first half. General manager Jack Zduriencik already has been fired, and more changes could be coming. But the M’s woes should not reflect badly on the efforts of Seth Smith. The Jackson native and former Ole Miss standout, in his first season with the Mariners, is hitting .247 with 11 home runs, 41 RBIs and 48 runs in 125 games. These numbers are on par with the veteran’s 162-game average (according to baseball-reference.com): .263, 16 homers, 59 RBIs, 67 runs. He has hit .257 with six homers at home in Safeco Field, not a hitter’s park. He has a 2.0 WAR rating, which translates to “solid starter.” Smith, a lefty hitter, doesn’t hit left-handers (.209, one homer in 43 at-bats), but the M’s knew that when they traded with San Diego to get him. This team already had stars (Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz). Smith, a so-called “professional hitter,” was acquired as a complementary piece, and he has held up his end. P.S. Cleveland is another team forecast (by some) as a playoff club that has scuffled. The Indians, who won 85 games in 2014, are 74-74, barely on the fringe of the AL wild card race thanks to a 26-20 surge since Aug. 1. Pitching has kept the Tribe afloat, and some credit there goes to Ole Miss alum Mickey Callaway, in his third year as the pitching coach. Cleveland’s staff ERA of 3.75 is third in the AL, and they lead the loop again in strikeouts. They set an MLB record in 2014 with 1,450 K’s.

31 Dec

changing places — again

Seth Smith will suit up for a third team in three years in 2015 – and once again the former Ole Miss standout is moving to a home park that’s tough on hitters. Smith, a left-handed hitting outfielder entering his ninth MLB season, was traded from San Diego to Seattle on Tuesday (for pitcher Brandon Maurer). Since coming up in 2007 with Colorado at the hitters’ paradise known as Coors Field, Smith has moved to O.Co Coliseum in Oakland, Petco Park in San Diego and now Safeco Field. All are notorious pitchers’ parks, with Safeco generally regarded as the most pitcher-friendly. Smith hit .266 with 12 home runs (plus 31 doubles and five triples) in 443 at-bats for the Padres in 2014 and .253 with eight homers in 368 at-bats for the A’s in 2013. This looks like a good move for Smith, who escapes the crowded outfield in San Diego. He’ll likely platoon with right-handed hitting Justin Ruggiano in right field for the Mariners, a team on the rise. With 85 career homers, Smith brings some pop. And he has played in four postseasons, including the 2007 World Series.