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Dominic Smith using Sandy Alderson’s criticism as motivation

Mets rookie first baseman Dominic helps David Oche, 7,

Mets rookie first baseman Dominic helps David Oche, 7, pick out socks during the team's Holiday Shopping Spree at Target in Elmhurst on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. Credit: James Escher

Dominic Smith’s bumpy introduction to the big leagues included a .198 average and scrutiny about his weight. So, even before Mets general manager Sandy Alderson made his concerns known during an end-of-season exit interview, Smith knew what was coming.

“It’s about winning,” said Smith, whose struggles have the Mets looking at other options at first base. “You can’t blame him for that. If I came up here and I hit .400 for a month and hit 15 home runs or did something like Rhys Hoskins, and then he said that, of course you would feel a different type of way. But that’s not what happened.”

What happened was far less flattering than Hoskins’ 18-homer outburst in his first 50 games with the Phillies. In 49 games, Smith slashed .198/.262/.395 with nine homers, falling well short of expectations after his big-league debut in August.

Smith’s losing battle with his weight added to the struggles. After trimming down upon his arrival in spring training, he slowly regained some of the bulk he had worked to shed. It raised lingering questions about his conditioning.

“I just got pretty much tired,” said Smith, who along with Amed Rosario spent Wednesday afternoon at a Target store in Queens with children from underprivileged families during the second annual Mets Holiday Shopping Spree.

Alderson made his concerns clear, both in his meeting with Smith and with reporters during the general managers’ meetings earlier this month. The Mets’ GM insisted that Smith would not be a lock for the job at first base next season. Alderson has followed up by exploring first-base options in the free-agent market. But Smith, who has lost about 12 pounds since the end of the season, said he’s using Alderson’s sentiments as motivation.

“They drafted me in the first round [in 2013] so they expect me to be a first-round type of player,” Smith said. “They expected me to be a star in New York City. Of course I didn’t live up to those expectations. I’m not going to take that and be upset about that. I know my capabilities, I know what I’m able to do, and I’m just going to put it all together and show the world.”

Despite Alderson’s criticisms, Smith still sees himself as part of the Mets’ long-term plans.

“I don’t think the Mets have given up on me,” he said. “I’m not worried about this, I’m not stressing over this, and I feel like I do have what it takes to play in the big leagues and be a good player in the big leagues.”

The offseason, Smith said, will be devoted to getting in shape and preparing himself to win a job in spring training. He’s been in contact with new manager Mickey Callaway and hitting coach Pat Roessler. By January, Smith said he intends to work out with the Mets’ strength and conditioning adviser, Mike Barwis, at the team’s complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

“This is something I want to get under control and never make it an issue again,” Smith said. “I’d rather go through this at 22 than go through it in my prime.”

Rosario wants Reyes to return

Jose Reyes is a free agent. But Rosario said on Wednesday that he hopes that the veteran is brought back. The Mets’ shortstop views Reyes as a mentor and has spoken to him nearly every day this offseason. “Of course it would be important for me if he was around because it’s not just for me but I think for the whole team, he’s just a guy who brings a lot of energy,” Rosario said through a translator.

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