LOS ANGELES — The Dominic Smith leftfielder experiment is back on.
Smith started in left Wednesday for the Mets against the Dodgers, and manager Mickey Callaway said he’ll probably start there at least once during the weekend in Arizona. With Jeff McNeil and Brandon Nimmo still hurt, the Mets consider Smith a viable option in left, specifically against righthanded pitchers.
“You can have three lefthanded outfielders get hurt and you have to make adjustments,” said Callaway, who counted the since-returned Michael Conforto along with McNeil and Nimmo. “And that’s what we’ve done.”
Smith dabbled in left last year, but the Mets didn’t get him any reps there during spring training. This season, as Smith performed well in a part-time role, he kept asking the Mets to let him practice in left, but they refused until recently. He went out there during batting practices to watch and catch fly balls anyway, “just playing around,” he said.
Actually playing there will be different.
“Live reps are always the best reps you can take,” Smith said. “You can take as many BP fly balls as you want or fungo fly balls and have the perfect routes, but as far as game reps, that’s really going to be the test.”
Callaway said he had no regrets about the Mets not putting Smith — who spent spring training competing with Pete Alonso for the first-base job — in the outfield during Grapefruit League play.
“We went about it the right way,” Callaway said. “The opportunity to actually play in the outfield wouldn’t have presented itself until now, and we feel like he’s prepared enough to go out there and do the job.
“It’s still a first baseman going to play leftfield, but he gets the ball in quick, he has an accurate arm. [Outfield coach Luis Rojas] really likes the routes he takes to the ball. If it’s catchable, he’s going to catch it.”
Lugo getting close
Seth Lugo’s bullpen session Wednesday, his first since landing on the injured list with right shoulder tendinitis last week, was the best he has felt all year, he said.
It went so well, Callaway said, that Lugo might not even need a second bullpen. He could be activated as soon as Friday.
“The way I feel and the way it’s coming out, I think I’m ready to go,” Lugo said.