A familiar face in Dominic Smith sauntered into the Mets’ dugout during their 6-0 win on Monday against the Miami Marlins, much to the delight of his teammates.
The first baseman and designated hitter had been optioned down to Triple-A on May 31 amidst a miserable start to the 2022 season, batting just .186 with a .543 OPS in 39 games in hopes of a reset both mentally and in the batter’s box.
After posting a .785 OPS with two home runs, five doubles, and 10 RBI in 15 games for the Syracuse Mets, Smith got the call to return to Queens after reliever Seth Lugo went on the paternity list, which was also the day in which the Mets had to decrease its pitching roster from 14 to 13, per MLB rules.
“I went and played and tried to have fun and the guys down there, they have got some talent,” Smith said. “I just tried to bring what I do on an everyday basis, which is my energy and the way I like to have fun and just try to teach as well, because a lot of these guys are going through this for the first time, too.
“It was fun to be around those young guys and help them kind of develop and help them with their mindset because they try really hard and they put a lot of pressure on themselves.”
For a team that had been riding with a dangerously short bench at times over the last two weeks, Smith’s reintroduction to the clubhouse will provide some depth relief for the roster.
He’ll be able to provide a completely different sort of boost if he can rediscover his swing from 2020 in which he was a top-10 bat in the National League.
In the abbreviated season, he finished 13th in the NL MVP voting after slashing .316/.377/.616 (.993 OPS) with 10 home runs and 42 RBI in just 50 games.
“He went down and did what he was asked to do,” manager Buck Showalter said. “Great work habits, got going again. We sent him out because we had some pitching issues, but we also wanted to get him better because we knew he was capable of better.”
The 27-year-old will be a prime candidate to give Pete Alonso rest days at first base while moonlighting as a designated hitter.
“In whatever role, he is ready to help,” Showalter continued. “He’s a good player and he’s capable of making contributions. We’ll see what the need of the club is and what he’s capable of bringing, for that game and situation.”