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Not in opener lineup, but Smith contributes right away

Not in opener lineup, but Smith contributes right away play video for Not in opener lineup, but Smith contributes right away

SAN DIEGO -- Outfielder Seth Smith wasn't in the Padres' starting lineup Sunday, as the Dodgers went with a left-handed pitcher, Hyun-Jin Ryu, but Smith figures to get plenty of at-bats this season.

Smith's first, in fact, came in the eighth inning, when he appeared as a pinch-hitter and tied the game at 1 with a deep homer to right field off Dodgers reliever Brian Wilson. The blast ignited a three-run rally in the Padres' 3-1 Opening Night win.


"It's about as much as you can hope for," Smith said of his first at-bat with San Diego.

The Padres traded reliever Luke Gregerson to the A's in November for Smith, addressing one of their biggest offseason needs -- finding a left-handed bat to improve their woeful offensive marks against righties from a year ago.

A year ago, San Diego ranked 25th in baseball with a .241 average against right-handed pitching, and the Padres were 29th in OPS (.668) against righties.

Enter Smith, who was coming off a Spring Training in which he hit .325, but with a .343 average in 35 at-bats facing right-handed pitchers, with three doubles and one home run.

"Right now, I'm good with where I am," Smith said prior to Sunday's game. "I'm always looking to get better and improve. It's always a work in progress. You're never content."

Smith began slowly this spring, but he found his swing -- and, subsequently, more success -- the longer spring rolled on.

"It's having good, productive at-bats without having to think about anything," Smith said. "You're working with your mechanics during the spring and getting your swing where you want it to be. I think that it all goes hand in hand. When you can get in there and clear your head, you can be productive. That's when you know you have a chance."

There's a good chance that Smith will start on Tuesday when the series resumes, as the Dodgers have righty Zack Greinke taking the mound. San Diego will face another right-hander on Wednesday in the series finale in Dan Haren. Smith will likely see time in right field.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["opening_week" ] }
{"content":["opening_week" ] }