PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The Mets told Dominic Smith to leave his outfield glove home when he reported to spring training. But Smith still has it — and he’s hoping the team will ask him to use it before it heads north for Opening Day.
As much as fans and media types ponder the final roster the Mets will bring to Washington for the March 28 opener, players try to handicap the races, too. Especially someone like Smith, who is battling Pete Alonso for the first-base job and would prefer to be in the majors even if he’s not the Opening Day first baseman against Max Scherzer.
“Of course, of course,” Smith said. “We think about it.”
Alonso and Smith are having sizzling spring trainings. Both were in the lineup in Sunday’s 9-1 victory over the Cardinals at First Data Field, with Smith at first and Alonso the designated hitter. But the DH hasn’t come to the National League for the regular season yet, and that’s what has Smith thinking about a trip back to leftfield, where he played 13 games for the Mets in 2018.
“I love it,” said Smith, who is batting .423 after going 1-for-3 with an RBI. “I’m all in for it. It’s something I hope they do. It would add flexibility and would just make our team better.”
Mickey Callaway trotted out what could be his Opening Day lineup (with the exception of the Alonso/Smith battle). It had Brandon Nimmo in left, Jeff McNeil in his spring training debut at third base, then Robinson Cano, Michael Conforto, Wilson Ramos, Alonso, Smith, Juan Lagares in center and Amed Rosario at shortstop.
Even with four lefthanded hitters at the top, the lineup worked splendidly against Cardinals lefthander Austin Gomber. Alonso and Smith had back-to-back singles in the second, with Smith driving in a run. Rosario, in his first game after being hit in the hand by a pitch Monday, cracked a three-run homer in his first at-bat. McNeil hit his second homer in as many games.
“Pretty good offense today, huh?” said Callaway, who said he won’t be afraid to stack his lefthanded hitters at the top of the order during the season.
Alonso, who is batting .414 with three home runs after going 1-for-3 with a walk, has never had a major-league at-bat. The previous Mets regime didn’t give him a look last September in a thinly veiled maneuver to keep the slugger from beginning to accrue service time.
But new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen reiterated Saturday that Alonso will not be sent to Triple-A to start the season if the Mets deem him ready to rake in the majors — and that was before he hit a mammoth homer over the faux Green Monster in Fort Myers.
“We will continue to look for the best 25 guys, and we will let that be our determining factor,” he said. “Not service time.”
Van Wagenen and Callaway also are pleased with J.D. Davis, who is in the mix at third and first. The righthanded hitter is batting .314 in 35 at-bats.
“It’s been pretty exciting because we’ve had Dom Smith and Pete Alonso and J.D. Davis, in particular,” Van Wagenen said of the first-base competition.
“I think if they continue to play as well as they have, then we’ll have some tough decisions at the end of camp. But those are exciting decisions to make because it’s a result of the players playing so well.”
So how does Callaway handicap the first-base battle?
“You guys want to write a story so I can read it?” he said. “I have no clue. I don’t know, man. They’re all awesome. I don’t know. It’s crazy.”