The Mets will spend the All-Star break resting, refueling and ruminating about the immediate future of Dominic Smith. Smith, once one of the organization’s most prized prospects, has struggled to get results and playing time since being called up on June 12.
The 23-year-old is hitting only .115 in 26-at-bats this month. He has only three hits in 10 July games. All told, he’s hitting .183 with one home run, one RBI and one walk in 73 plate appearances (27 games) after hitting .198 in 49 games last season.
With the Mets battling the Marlins in an attempt to stay out of fifth place in the NL East and a playing-out-the-string-type second half only days away, the question almost asks itself — would Smith’s development be better served at Triple-A Las Vegas?
Mets manager Mickey Callaway said a decision on that front might be made this week.
“I think that’s something we need to think about,” Callaway said before the Mets’ 7-4 victory over the Nationals on Saturday afternoon at Citi Field. “Are we going to be able to get him the at-bats that he needs for his continued development? I think that we’ve been trying to weigh that the last week and a half, two weeks, and I think some kind of a decision, one way or another, will be made during the All-Star break.”
Smith again did not play Saturday — he’s had one at-bat in the series — but, Callaway spoke with him before the game about the situation, urging him to continue to work hard and just “control what he can control.’’
“He can’t control where he gets sent to play, but what he can control is the work that he does,” Callaway said. “Quite frankly, if he feels that [he should be in the big leagues], go down there, hit .400 and hit a bunch of bombs in a very hitter-friendly park. That was the gist of our conversation.”
Going back to Las Vegas, where he hit .260 with two home runs and 25 RBIs in 56 games (219 at-bats) this season, certainly would not be ideal. But despite indicating otherwise Friday, Smith said Saturday that he wouldn’t characterize a demotion as a disappointment.
“No, I mean it’s part of the game, I guess,” Smith said. “You just have to keep plugging away and keep grinding. If I go back, then I go back, and I’m going to go and prove why I should be back up here.”
Smith appreciated Callaway’s candor on the matter. Even in the major leagues, those kind of conversations are never easy.
“He came to me like a man and said how he felt,” Smith said. “I respect that. I’m just going to continue to put in my work and, like he said, ‘control what I can control.’ That’s just the work I put in every day and I’m going to continue to do that and continue to work hard. That’s all I can do for now and, you know, it still could turn. I just have to keep working.”
Part of that work has included a partial switch from first base to the outfield. After coming up through the system as the Mets’ possible long-term answer at first base, Smith has played eight games in leftfield.
“I’ve only been playing it a little while,” Smith said of his progress. “It is what it is. I try to catch all the balls I can, try to make all the routine plays, don’t try to do too much, don’t try to air it out or make bad throws, or try to dive too much and allow a run to score. I keep it simple and just learn every day. I come out early and get my extra reads out there. I’ll get reads during BP and I try to take that with me into the game.”