BY John Hickey 08:13PM 04/22/2011

Smoak due back with Mariners Tuesday

First baseman gets the time he needs with family after the death of his father.

Justin Smoak was placed on the bereavement list by the Mariners earlier this week. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

The Mariners have been without their regular first baseman since Justin Smoak took a bereavement leave just before the death of his father Tuesday and will go the rest of the weekend filling in for Smoak.

Manager Eric Wedge, who has a “family comes first’’ policy, talked to Smoak and told the 24-year-old infielder to take the time he needs to be with his family.

As a result, Smoak isn’t expected to rejoin the team until Tuesday when Seattle starts a six-game road trip with the first of three games in Detroit.

Keith Smoak, 57, died of cancer in South Carolina.

“I talked to Justin yesterday and we’re going to give him the time with his family to have the closure he needs to have before he comes back,’’ Wedge said.

The manager said that, based on that conversation, Smoak is doing about as well as could be expected under difficult circumstances.

“He was OK,’’ Wedge said. “I think we’ve all been through this in some shape or form. What he is trying to do is to just take care of his family.’’

NOTES: Closer David Aardsma made his second injury rehabilitation assignment appearance Tuesday in Tacoma against Colorado Springs and threw one shutout inning. … As was suggested here Thursday, the Mariners are planning on having Felix Hernandez throw on his fifth day, which would be Tuesday in Detroit. That would push lefty Erik Bedard back to Wednesday and would give Bedard two extra days off between starts. Wedge and Bedard talked about it before Friday’s game with Oakland. “If we can, we want to keep Felix going every fifth day,’’ Wedge said. “The benefit to Erik is that he can have a good (extra) work day.’’ Bedard is coming back from shoulder surgery and is 0-4 with a 7.71 ERA in four starts. … Milton Bradley, who missed the last two starts in left field, was back in the lineup Friday, but he wasn’t in for long. Bradley had been in Thursday’s original lineup, but he had some stomach problems that sidelined him. Back in the lineup Friday, he walked in the first inning, but came out of the game after the second with back spasms. … Wedge said he was going to look for a soft landing if he could to get reliever Chris Ray back into the bullpen mix. Ray, a one-time closer with Baltimore, is limping along with a 16.88 ERA and 12 hits allowed in 5.1 innings. “He got in a real good work day with (pitching coach) Carl Willis,’’ Wedge said. “We saw what we needed to see in spring training with his command and his stuff. This is a guy who has had some success at the back end of games.’’

Twitter: @JHickey3


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