Terry Collins has a message for Dominic Smith: Just be yourself!
Even if yourself is only hitting .182 in your first 88 big-league at-bats.
The Mets haven’t seen enough from the 22-year-old yet to know if he will be the answer at first base in 2018. But Collins said he isn’t interested in altering Smith’s approach despite the numbers, which include four home runs and 12 RBIs.
“As I’ve said before, I hope we don’t start making too many changes with these kids,” Collins said on Wednesday before the Mets faced the Phillies at Citi Field. “They got here because there were some things they did in the minor leagues that got them to the big leagues. What they have to see is what works and what doesn’t for them. The minute we start making instant changes and all of a sudden there’s failure involved, that doesn’t work. You’ve got to let them be themselves.”
Smith joined the Mets on Aug. 11 and has shown that he has some game — and some holes. The 2013 first-round pick (11th overall) hit .164 in August, but opened up September by going 5-for-13 with a home run and four RBIs in the Mets’ three-game series in Houston.
Since then, though, Smith was 0-for-8 in two games against the Phillies, although he did double to right in his first at-bat on Wednesday and later scored on a single by pitcher Robert Gsellman.
Later, in RBI spots, Smith struck out in the third and fouled out to third base in the fifth.
According to Collins, the Mets coaching staff is handling the kid with kid gloves through his successes and struggles.
“Right now, Dom’s trying to make adjustments on his own and we don’t get too involved in changing his swing or anything else,” Collins said. “As we get down the road here and he gets a substantial number of at-bats up here, he’ll figure it out because he’s a good enough hitter. He should be able to figure out, ‘Hey, if I’ve got to do this better or I’ve got to do that better.’ And obviously we’ll have some things to say, but I just think you can put too many things in a young player’s mind when he’s trying to figure out what he has to do at the major-league level to succeed. I just want him to go out and play.”
Smith’s power was slow to develop in the minors, but he has a career-high 20 this year between Triple-A and the majors. It’s been a learning experience for Smith, who is trying to absorb the plentiful information that is available to him now. The legal information, that is.
“We have iPads in the dugout,” Smith said. “No Apple Watches. We have team-issued iPads to see the pitchers just like other teams have. Until you get to the big leagues, you don’t have that stuff.”
Asked what the best part of big-league life has been so far, Smith said: “Winning, winning, winning. When you win, it’s fun. You have a good time after the game. Everybody’s laughing. Winning. That’s the best part about it.”
Going into Wednesday, the Mets were 8-18 since Aug. 11. So there are some growing pains to be faced there, too.
“We have some talented young guys coming,” Collins said. “That’s the one thing we all told them: ‘This is a different situation than you’ll ever be in again because this town, this fan base, winning’s everything.’ ”
The Mets’ other top prospect, shortstop Amed Rosario, missed his third straight game with swelling in his index finger. Rosario is day-to-day.