Dominic Smith was in the Mets’ lineup on Wednesday night against St. Louis righthander Jordan Hicks.
With Robinson Cano gone, is it safe to assume the lefty-swinging Smith will be a regular at either first base or designated hitter when the Mets face a righty?
“Not necessarily,” manager Buck Showalter said, before adding, “I wouldn’t commit completely because we have needs of other people,” and mentioning J.D. Davis, Luis Guillorme and Travis Jankowski.
That news, when conveyed to Smith on the field before the Mets hosted the Cardinals, produced a smile. And a desire to help the Mets however he’s asked to.
And, perhaps, a desire to go play somewhere else if he can’t become an everyday player with the Mets.
“I just want to play every day,” Smith told Newsday. “To be honest, that’s what I want to do. I like where this team is going. I feel like I can impact this team in a number of ways, and that’s being [in the lineup] every day, in my opinion.
“But as a person, being here since I was 22, now I’m 26, and still in the same position. About to be 27. If there’s a team out there that wants me to play and wants to let me play, I would love to play every day. That’s just how I feel about that.”
Smith, who turns 27 on June 15, is batting .203 with no home runs, 11 RBIs and a .560 OPS after going 1-for-3 with an RBI single and walk in the Mets’ 11-4 victory over the Cardinals. Wednesday was the Mets’ 39th game and Smith’s 17th start, all against righthanders.
On Tuesday, Smith snapped an 0-for-20 skid with two hits, including an RBI double, in the Mets’ 3-1 victory over St. Louis in the first game of a doubleheader. He did not start Game 2 against lefthander Steven Matz and walked as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning of the Mets’ 4-3 loss.
The Mets would like Smith to show he is the hitter who finished 13th in the NL MVP voting in the shortened 2020 season (.316, 10 HRs, .993 OPS) and not the hitter who struggled in a career-high 145 games in 2021 (.244, 11 HRs, .667 OPS).
Smith probably thought he would get more playing time once Cano was let go on May 2. But, he said: “They don’t explain things to me. They do what’s best for the Mets. All I can do is show up and try to help this team win when I can.”
Showalter said he has reasons why he doesn’t consider Smith an everyday player against righties.
“We have these projections that we obviously look at,” Showalter said. “You see certain pitchers and certain type of approaches. Certain guys have strengths and weaknesses. Where J.D.’s concerned, I’m not going to let him get too far away from playing. In a perfect world, I’d love to get him out there for some consistent at-bats.
“But I feel the same way about Dom, too. Dom’s starting to swing the bat a little bit. So you’re always playing that back and forth when you’ve got two good potential players. I think both of them are a five-day stretch from really getting out there and showing us why they can be contributors.”
Smith would like the opportunity to be an everyday contributor somewhere. The Mets almost shipped him to San Diego in a trade before the season that would have given him an everyday job, but the deal fell through. Smith stayed with team that drafted him 11th overall in 2013 and brought him to the majors in 2017.
Then, there was talk of the Mets sending Smith to the minors when they had to cut the roster by May 2. Smith went out and had four hits on May 1 and the Mets let go of Cano instead.
Smith was on the bench for two of the next three games, including one started by Atlanta righthander Ian Anderson.
“I would like to be in the lineup every day, every time, righty, lefty,” Smith said. “I feel like I can impact the team every day . . . I try to just go in the cage, put in my work, show what I did [Tuesday], show what I can when I can. If that’s going to be in another three days, I can’t do anything about it. I can’t write the lineup. I just try to do what I can when I get in there. That’s it.”