HOUSTON — Dominic Smith is done wondering if his future is with the Mets.
“That’s another thing that’s out of my control. We’ve been talking about this for years now, and I’m still here,” Smith said. “So till that day comes when I’m gone, that’s when I’ll actually think it’ll happen. But until then, I’ll be here. I’m a Met. I love being here and I can’t wait to help us win today.”
Those comments came Wednesday morning, two hours before his return to the lineup for the first time since May 29, the latest turn in a wild few weeks that began when he was sent down to Triple-A Syracuse on the last day of last month. He went 1-for-4 with a double and two strikeouts in a 5-3 loss to the Astros.
In publicly discussing his reaction to that demotion for the first time, Smith acknowledged that it was “a little bit shocking,” citing some of his peripheral statistics such as chase and hard-hit rates that he said indicated he had been improving at the plate.
“I didn’t really think it would really happen,” he said. “I didn’t put much thought into it. I thought that I was coming here every day competing and I was putting together good ABs. Obviously I didn’t get the results every time . . . I understand the business of it, I understand the game. I went down there and competed and tried to help that team win every game.”
Smith, who hasn’t homered in the majors since July 21, hit .266 with a .785 OPS in 15 games with Syracuse. The Mets called him up Monday when they needed to add a position player when MLB mandated a limit of 13 pitchers on the 26-man active roster.
After multiple conversations with Buck Showalter, during which the manager made clear to Smith what sort of playing time to expect, Smith told him: “I’ll be ready no matter what my opportunity is.”
“He does a great job making sure we’re OK as a person first before we’re OK as a baseball player, and that’s why I appreciate him. I love that he’s my manager,” said Smith, who has a .198 average and .567 OPS. “I feel fine (on the field). I felt fine the whole time. I felt fine before I got sent down. I feel like I’m not that far off. It’s just getting out there and playing. I think I’ll be fine.”
Max Scherzer (strained left oblique) remains a candidate to start Sunday against the Marlins, but Showalter held off on making that official without talking to Scherzer himself. He’ll meet up with the Mets in Miami.
Team decision-makers won’t bring back Scherzer merely because Carlos Carrasco (lower back tightness) left his start early Wednesday, potentially giving the Mets another sidelined starter.
“Max knows we want him to pitch for us the rest of the season,” Showalter said. “Just because we’re having some challenges with some of the health of our starters, it shouldn’t affect at all his timetable.”
The Mets otherwise will keep their starters in order, with Taijuan Walker on Friday and Chris Bassitt on Saturday night.
Seth Lugo (paternity list) will return Friday, Showalter said. His wife, Amanda, gave birth to their second son . . . Showalter expects Jeff McNeil (right hamstring tightness) back in the lineup Friday or Saturday . . . Pete Alonso became the first Mets hitter to have two seasons in which he hit 20 homers in the team’s first 70 games. The others to do it: Dave Kingman (1976), Darryl Strawberry (1987), Mike Piazza (2000) and Carlos Delgado (2006).