The Mets were looking at a quick turnaround after Wednesday night’s 7-2 loss to the Padres with Thursday’s series finale scheduled for 12:10 p.m. and Dom Smith didn’t expect that he’d be able to get much sleep. The reason? A night full of misadventures in leftfield.
Smith made a pair of errors and failed to make the play on a couple more balls that went for hits. These miscues come on the heels of last Friday, when the converted first baseman made a game-ending error in the 10th inning of a 1-0 loss to the Giants in San Francisco.
“I’ll probably be thinking about it all night,” Smith said, “but that’s just the nature of being passionate and caring about the game.“
Smith made both of his errors in the Padres’ three-run third inning. San Diego’s Hunter Renfroe singled into left with a runner on second and two out. Smith charged the rolling ball and was looking to come up throwing, but didn’t stay down and the ball got by him. The runs scored and Renfroe ended up on second base. The next hitter, Franmil Reyes, doubled to left to score the run and Smith made a bad throw to the infield that allowed Reyes to reach third base; he did not score.
In the fourth inning, he misjudged Fernando Tatis Jr.’s hard-hit liner and it sailed over his head for a double. In the eighth, he slid too soon on a sinking ball between him and retreating shortstop Amed Rosario and didn’t get to it; it went for an RBI single.
“The ground ball I just think he was trying to throw the guy out and pulled his glove up a little bit. The line drive Tatis hit? It was 107 mph off the bat, just over head high,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “Those are difficult for anybody.”
Callaway thought that Smith showed some hesitation before sliding for the ball in the eighth and that it might have been a carryover from the error on Friday, saying “I can’t say for sure that did affect him, but you did see a little hesitation there.”
Smith said “I don’t want to say it altered my confidence.”
The fact of the matter is that Smith is a first baseman playing out of position and was making just his 26th start in leftfield. All three Mets outfielders are arguably playing out of position. Centerfielder Michael Conforto normally plays right. Rightfielder Jeff McNeil has been converted from playing the infield. The Mets want all their bats in the lineup because they are among their better hitters.
Smith, however, was given no reps in the outfield in spring training, when there was a chance to get him some game experience at the position. And now Callaway said “the real place to learn is in the game -- unfortunately.”
The play most likely to keep Smith awake was that one in the eighth, where he was just short of making the sliding catch.
“You could see I was coming in hard. I made my best effort. I laid out for it,” he said. “I just tried to make the play. It was an inch from my glove. All I can do is play hard.”