Orioles outfielder Seth Smith, at age 34, has played long enough to get used to two things — his place as the big half of a left-right platoon and his tenuous status as a member of any given team.
On the first account, Smith was not in the starting lineup Wednesday night despite homering three times in his past five games, including two straight, hitting .450 in that span to raise his batting average to .265. That’s because the Texas Rangers are starting left-hander Martin Perez and Smith usually finds the bench against left-handers. The same will go with left-hander Cole Hamels on Thursday night.
“For the last six or seven years, that’s how it’s been,” Smith said. “You just kind of do it. That’s the way it is.”
On the second account, as a pending free agent who is owed just what remains of his $7 million salary for this year, Smith hears his name floated as a possible trade chip away from the Orioles.
That, too, is something Smith is used to. The Orioles acquired him for right-hander Yovani Gallardo in January, making them his fifth team since 2011. He was drafted by the Colorado Rockies and was there until 2012, when they sent him to the Oakland Athletics. From there, he went to the San Diego Padres and signed as a free agent with the Mariners before the 2015 season.
Smith said he’s familiar with the rumors.
“I don’t worry about things that are outside of my control, or at least you try not to,” Smith said.
His stock, if the team does move him, is higher than it was two weeks ago. Before the All-Star break, he was in a terrible slump during which his batting line dropped from. 310/.392/.524 on May 18 to .246./317/.420 on July 6.
Smith maintains that it’s mere chance that all that coincided with a foul ball that bounced off the ground and into his eye in that May 18 game, but said any struggles he has had are just part of the game.
“I have some downs every year,” he said. “I have some ups, and usually end up in about the same place. You’d rather be super consistent and be the exact same every day, but the reality is that’s not how it works, so you try to get out of the downs as quick as possible and stay up as long as you can. But really, it’s a day-to-day thing. You just try to find your swing that day and get some good pitches to hit and hit them hard.”