The name plates around rookie Dominic Smith change almost daily now. With the Mets’ late-August roster purge in full swing, the lack of consistency can be maddening. But here’s something that is consistent — Smith. He’s not going anywhere.
With players like Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, Curtis Granderson, and Rene Rivera deemed not to be part of the future, Smith is one of the pieces who certainly is. Surrounded by players who may doubt whether they’ll be here tomorrow or the next day, Smith sits in a pantheon of comfort.
“It’s definitely weird,” Smith said of all the moving parts around him. “When I first got up here, Neil Walker was here. He’s a great guy and great person, somebody you’ll love and want to be around every day. I only played with him for a day or two and he was gone. Same thing with [Granderson]. That’s a lot of knowledge between those two guys. A bunch of guys that we did trade this year had a ton of knowledge that the young guys can learn from.”
But Smith, who was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas earlier this month, seems to be plugging along just fine. His solo home run in the eighth inning of the Mets’ 8-1 victory over the Marlins at Citi Field Saturday night was his second in his first nine games, and first at his home park.
“It felt good,” said Smith, who has hit safely in five of those nine games. “The other night it felt like 100 pounds was lifted off my shoulder when I finally got my first hit. I could really settle in, relax and, hopefully, continue to contribute every day to win ball games.”
Smith continued to analyze his home run.
“I just tried to stay on top of it,” he said. “I know they’ve been attacking me high the last couple nights. Right there, I was in an advantage count at 2-0, so I just tried to put a good swing on a pitch in the zone. A little earlier, I was laying off a few fastballs, so I just wanted to get the head [of the bat] out there.”
Smith, who is hitting .172 with two home runs and three RBIs in nine games, said he feels more comfortable at the plate than he did a week ago.
“A million times more,” Smith said. “On the field, I don’t really tense up or stress. I let my instincts take over. I felt like, as the days went on, I became more comfortable, more relaxed, and felt like the game was starting to slow down.”
Mets manager Terry Collins doesn’t see Smith’s upward trend stopping.
“I think it’s going to continue,” Collins said. “He’s going to see all different kinds [of pitches]. He’s a good offensive player. He’s always hit in the minor leagues. The thing that I think is going to make him a good hitter is that he’s kind of like Michael [Conforto]. He’s not just a one-dimensional guy. He’s not just a pull guy or a power guy. He’s a good hitter.”
Collins continued: “I think young players who are good hitters will ultimately adjust and learn how to get the ball in the air and become power hitters. I think Dom is one of those kind of guys. The more he plays here, the more he’s comfortable here, the more he says to himself, ‘hey look, I belong here.’ I think you’re going to see improved play out of him.”