SEATTLE -- Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak took a mighty swing and powered through the ball, sending a little looper up the middle. He didn't hit it too well, but he wasn't overly worried.
That's because Smoak was playing golf Monday. He was enjoying a rare off-day, but it wasn't just a fun outing, as Smoak and many other Mariners -- players, front-office staff and other people affiliated with the team -- were at The Golf Club at Newcastle to raise money and awareness for cystic fibrosis. It was part of the 27th Annual Mariners Care Golf Tournament to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
The Mariners have raised more than $4.5 million to date through the annual charity event to help combat cystic fibrosis.
"The Mariners have been involved with us since Day 1," said Harley Franco, chairman and CEO of Harley Marine Services, the lead sponsor of the fundraiser. "They're just not Seattle's team, but they're cystic fibrosis' team. We can't thank them enough for what they're doing for this great cause. We're up here to have a little fun, raise some money and educate ourselves on all the breakthroughs that we're doing for cystic fibrosis."
There were about 10 current players in attendance, led by tournament co-hosts Shawn Kelley, Dustin Ackley and Smoak, along with a few former players. General manager Jack Zduriencik and skipper Eric Wedge were also at the event, which featured a silent auction and dinner, as well.
Even though there are very few off-days, those in attendance agreed that it was a more-than-worthy cause to devote a day to.
"When you have an opportunity as a professional team to support something and to raise some money and to do it in a great manner like this, I think you have a responsibility to do that," Wedge said. "We got a great turnout with our players and front office and people in the organization. It's just a great opportunity to do something right."
What was not so right was Smoak's driver, which lasted about five swings on the driving range. That's when the club head sailed off about 20 feet onto the range -- yes, he retrieved it. On the putting green, starter Blake Beavan was having a little more luck, testing out the green speeds.
But the day wasn't about winning or losing; it was about raising money and awareness for cystic fibrosis.