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Spring Training 2012: Mariners' Justin Smoak Seeks Break-Out Season

Seattle Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak was considered one of the most highly-regarded prospects in baseball when he was coming up but he hasn't lived up to that hype.

Since coming over to the Mariners in July 2010, Smoak hit .235 with 20 home runs and a .714 OPS while battling various injuries.

ESPN analyst and former MLB executive Keith Law stopped by "Brock and Salk" on 710 ESPN Friday and said he still thinks Smoak has a great career ahead of him.

"I don't think you really saw the real Justin Smoak. He got off to a great start, then his father passed away suddenly, and then the injuries started mounting. I don't think he was really ever healthy."

"If you ask any hitter, particularly a power hitter, the hand injury is one they fear because even when it's technically healed [and] you're cleared by the trainers to get back out into the cages, if you can't really grip the bat with your typical strength you're going to find it very hard to drive the ball. You may still be able to center up the baseball, but to actually drive it is extremely difficult with hand, thumb, wrist injuries, and they take a very long time to heal."

"So I kind of want to put that Smoak season behind us. Let's get a full, healthy, 500 at bats out of him this year. If he doesn't perform again I will stand up and say I was wrong about this kid, but I really don't think I am."

If he can stay healthy in 2012, we may finally see the Justin Smoak that everyone has been waiting to see.

For more on the Mariners and to discuss the club heading into Spring Training, head on over to Lookout Landing.