With a revised plate approach — one marked by early-count aggression — and anecdotal success, Dominic Smith earned this week what has eluded him for much of the season: praise from manager Mickey Callaway.
After Smith’s pinch hit double Sunday, Callaway highlighted his approach change and confidence.
“Dom is putting good swings on the ball,” Callaway said. “He’s confident, he’s going up there and he’s attacking the ball. The last time he was here, he looked a little passive and not quite sure. Right now, he’s just taking the barrel to the ball and he’s having good results.”
Smith, who has struggled to gain any traction offensively this season, said the decision to be more aggressive was a conscious one.
“I came up in my career being a patient hitter, and I got up here and realized sometimes the best pitch is the first one you get,” Smith said.
That was tough to put into practice with Triple-A Las Vegas, where opposing teams sometimes pitched around him, but he said he was at least able to put the mindset in place: “All right, be ready to hit from the first pitch to the last. Be ready, be on time. I wanted to take that approach up here.”
In his limited chances, Smith has found some success with it. His double Sunday came on the third pitch. His homer Friday was a second-pitch fastball. His homer Aug. 22, his most recent major-league game before this week, was a first-pitch fastball.
“The best pitches I was getting to hit were early in the count. I fell behind early and I would chase and chase. Why was I getting out? I was getting myself out,” Smith said. “If I’m able to just swing at good pitches, good things will happen. Sometimes those good pitches are early in the count and you start scaring [pitchers] out of the zone, then they fall behind and have to come to you.”
Smith said of his tight left groin, which caused him to leave Saturday’s game early: “[It's] Good. A little sore yesterday, but it’s good. It’ll be fine." … Similarly, Noah Syndergaard was “in a really good spot” and didn’t need any further evaluation after taking a comebacker off his midsection Saturday, Callaway said … Jeff McNeil (3-for-4) is hitting .475 in 18 games at Citi Field … Drew Gagnon picked up his first major-league win with two scoreless innings against the Phillies Sunday.