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Originally published August 17, 2013 at 7:30 PM | Page modified August 17, 2013 at 8:21 PM

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Zduriencik says Wedge could be back full-time by Friday

Mariners general manager hopes manager can return by Angels series.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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ARLINGTON, Texas – Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said Eric Wedge could be back managing at full-throttle by Friday.

Zduriencik said Saturday the team is hoping Wedge can be cleared to open Seattle’s upcoming six-game homestand, which opens that day against the Los Angeles Angels. Wedge is to meet with his doctors midweek and see whether he can be cleared to resume working in the dugout.

If that happens, Zduriencik added, there will be no easing Wedge back into things. Interim manager Robby Thompson had suggested in recent days that there could be some easing-in of Wedge, but Zduriencik insisted any dugout return would be to full-duty and with the intention of finishing out the season.

“That’s been our plan all along with this,’’ Zduriencik said. “It’s the only thing that’s fair to everybody.’’

Zduriencik said he expects to know definitively by the team’s off-day on Thursday when Wedge can resume working.

Smoak heats up

Justin Smoak just loves swinging his bat in the warmer weather.

Smoak’s numbers have continued to heat up big in the second half, his home run on Friday night giving him eight since the All-Star break to go with a .313 batting average and an on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS) of .950 over that span heading into Saturday.

The home run gave Smoak hits in 13 of his last 15 games.

“I like playing in the heat, so it’s good,’’ Smoak said.

Despite Smoak’s continued surge, the Mariners have resisted moving him higher than sixth or seventh in the batting order. Smoak said he doesn’t think a return to the heart of the order would cause a downturn in his numbers.

“I’ve been in the middle of the order my whole life,’’ he said. “It’s not a big deal for me. Last year, I hit there in the four-spot a lot. It is what it is. We’ve got some veteran guys in the middle of the order now.’’

One of those veterans, Michael Morse, has struggled since coming off the disabled list on July 30. Morse has hit just .173 with an OPS of .526.

But Thompson said before Saturday’s game he has no intention of moving Smoak up.

“I think it’s been working and Smoak has been comfortable,” Thompson said. “He has done well. So, we did talk about ‘Do we move him up? Or just leave him where he’s been? And where he’s not thinking that he’s got to do even more because he’s been moved up in the lineup?’ So, we’ll just keep him there where he’s done well.”

Notes

• The Mariners finally activated catcher Jesus Sucre off the 15-day disabled list more than two months after he injured his hand. What was initially thought to be a bone bruise turned out to be a break and then Sucre’s recovery was further complicated by a bone spur in his hand. Sucre was immediately optioned to Class AAA and Tacoma catcher Brandon Bantz was sent to AA to clear room.

• The Mariners lead the major leagues with 35 home runs hit in the eighth inning or later.

Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or gbaker@seattletimes.com.

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