A day after the Mets’ season effectively ended, Dominic Smith’s re-started.
The Mets activated Smith from the 60-day injured list Thursday, making Smith’s comeback attempt from a stress fracture in his left foot — which he was told in late July would end his season — a success. He likely will be used only off the bench, manager Mickey Callaway said, as the Mets play out their final four games after being mathematically eliminated from playoff contention Wednesday.
And then Smith will get to what should be an interesting offseason. With Pete Alonso entrenched at first base, Smith’s natural position, Smith said he is planning in the coming months to get into better shape so he can play “all three outfield spots.”
Yes, all three outfield spots, including centerfield (in addition to first base). He has already enlisted a track coach to help him improve his stride, range and overall speed.
“Why not? Why not get in great shape and try to compete and do it?” said Smith, who played 32 games in leftfield this year after asking the Mets to let him practice there for months. “I'm not selling myself short on anything. I'm sure I can go out there and compete and do anything.
“I feel like the more versatile this roster gets, the better we'll become as a team. I know this whole offseason a bunch of us utility guys are looking forward to getting there to work on our utility game. We just want to do that to improve the team and roster.”
The other scenario — perhaps the more likely scenario — is Smith getting traded for a piece or pieces that fit better with the Mets’ roster. That might allow Smith to regularly play first base, where he is very good.
Smith said he doesn’t think about that possibility.
“All I can do is come here every day, compete and work hard, try to help my team win ball games,” he said. “It's just something that doesn't phase me or bother me.”
McNeil to have surgery
Jeff McNeil’s season ended Wednesday night when a fastball from Miami’s Josh D. Smith broke his right wrist. His offseason will begin next week with surgery to insert a plate and help the bone heal.
McNeil said he expects to be fully recovered well in advance of spring training. If he had suffered this injury in the middle of the season, he would have been looking at a six-week absence, he said he was told.
“That got a lot of bone, a lot of wrist,” said McNeil, who went on the 60-day IL to open a spot on the 40-man roster for Smith. “I knew right when it hit that it wasn’t good. I had trouble taking off my batting gloves and stuff. Not the news I want to hear.
“[Doctors] said this is kind of no big deal. They said they’ll put a plate in it and recovery time is quicker with surgery. They had no worries.”
And so ends McNeil’s first full major-league season — an All-Star season, at that. He had a .318/.384/.531 slash line and 23 homers and 75 RBIs while playing leftfield, third base, rightfield and second base, establishing himself as a critical piece of the Mets’ core.
Regarding his best/preferred position defensively, McNeil said: “I like what I did this year. Whatever is best for the organization, I’m willing to do that. Happy to play wherever.”
McNeil was a different kind of hitter in the second half. His average dropped dramatically (.349 to .276) but he hit way more homers (seven in 76 games compared to 16 in 57 games).
“I like myself overall, somewhere in the middle,” McNeil said. “Hopefully I’ll be a .330 hitter with 25 home runs and 100 RBIs. I want to be that kind of player.”
Alonso will make an appearance at the 9/11 Memorial Museum at 10 a.m. Tuesday to donate the 9/11 first responder tribute cleats he wore on the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks this month…On Oct. 4, Alonso will appear on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” in a segment filmed this week…With the Mets eliminated, a few players will coast into the offseason, Callaway said. Justin Wilson probably won’t pitch again, and if Seth Lugo does it’ll be for one inning and not on consecutive days. Among other considerations, Wilson Ramos is getting Thursday and Friday off and Robinson Cano will sit Friday.