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Mets send Dominic Smith down to minors after Yoenis Cespedes rejoins club

Dominic Smith of the Mets strikes out to

Dominic Smith of the Mets strikes out to end a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field on June 22. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Yoenis Cespedes being healthy again means Dominic Smith is a minor leaguer again.

The Mets demoted Smith, their 23-year-old first baseman and sometimes outfielder, to Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday to make room for Cespedes, who returned after more than two months on the disabled list.

Assistant general manager John Ricco said the Mets, who began the second half tied for last in the division and firmly in evaluation mode, didn’t have playing time for Smith and felt he still had developing to do in the minors.

“And also the fact that we’re still looking to be competitive and try to win as many games we can over the second half,” Ricco said. “If there was nothing left for Dom to do in Triple A, I think you’d see him here playing. But I still think we believe he has some things to do before he’s a full-time major leaguer.”

In his latest major-league stint, Smith spent about a month in a part-time role, starting 10 games at first base and six in leftfield. He batted .183 with a .216 OBP and .324 slugging percentage.

Ricco said Smith will mostly play the outfield for Las Vegas, since the organization knows what he is as a first baseman and he needs to share time with Peter Alonso, who is entrenched at first for Vegas. Alonso, also 23, has a .271/.398/.526 slash line with 22 homers in Double A and Triple A this year.

“[Smith is] still a young player with a lot of talent who needs to play,” Ricco said. “We saw some glimpses and kept him up here for a little bit, but ultimately the playing time . . . wasn’t there for him. And we weren’t at a point yet where we’re just going to hand first base or leftfield over to him. We felt it was in his interest and in ours.”

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