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Smolinski Smashing in Return

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Jake Smolinski hit .389 in his first 11 MLB games as a 25-year-old somewhat overlooked prospect that quickly was seen as a reincarnation of former Rangers great Rusty Greer.

    A fractured foot ended his fairy tale start to his big-league career when he was shelved for nearly two months.

    On Tuesday night, Smolinski was activated from the disabled list and thrown into the starting lineup in a series opener against the rival Oakland A's without the benefit of a rehab assignment since the minor-league season ended last month. He had no tuneups and admitted he was having some trouble with off-speed stuff, which is to be expected having not seen live pitching in two months.

    But Smolinski did get a hold of one Scott Kazmir offering, and deposited it into the stands for a two-run home run — the first of his big-league career — en route to a 6-3 win over Oakland, which further damaged the A's playoff hopes while giving the Rangers a seemingly unprecedented fourth straight victory.

    Smolinski will likely play every day to close the season, and a strong finish could give him serious consideration for a roster spot heading into the 2015 season.