PHILADELPHIA — Dominic Smith is finally getting the call. The Mets’ next top prospect was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas to the majors Thursday and will join the major league team Friday.
Amidst defending his deal with the Indians sending slugger Jay Bruce to Cleveland for an unconventional, lower-level prospect, Sandy Alderson announced the expected move to bring up Smith Thursday afternoon. It was similar to how he announced the move to call up Amed Rosario last week after the Mets had dealt closer Addison Reed to the Red Sox for prospects.
Alderson said the rest of the Mets’ disappointing 2017 season is going to be all about giving the young kids a chance to play.
“We will continue to work toward introducing or giving playing time to players that we want to see with regard to how they fit into 2018,” Alderson said. “Consistent with what we’ve said in the past, we want to get a look at him beyond just a typical September call-up. With the move, Bruce going to Cleveland, it’s not a direct replacement, Bruce did play some first base, but as the number of veteran players and potential free agents is reduced, then we create more playing time.
“So, he hasn’t been on a tear. It’s not like he’s hit .500 the last week or 10 days,” Alderson said of the Mets’ No. 2 prospect. “He’s continued to play well defensively and offensively. We think the time is right. This gives him a little chance to play in Philadelphia before he goes to the Subway Series.”
Smith is hitting .330 with 16 home runs, 76 RBI and 87 strikeouts in 457 at-bats in Triple-A this season. The 22-year-old has struggled over the last week, though, hitting .211 with one home run and seven RBI.
“I want to see what kind of player he is,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “I am anxious to see how he swings the bat, anxious to see his discipline at the plate. I am anxious to see how he handles himself at first and to see how he handles himself in this atmosphere.
“Again, if you are going to come to the big leagues, this is a good place to come and start if you are an offensive player.”
SO LONG SALAS
To make room on the 25-man roster for Smith, the Mets designated struggling right-handed reliever Fernando Salas for assignment. Salas, for whom the Mets traded last August and re-signed late in the offseason, had allowed 15 earned runs in his last 18.2 innings pitched.
CONFORTO CLEANING UP IN CENTER
With Jay Bruce now gone, Michael Conforto’s role will change a little bit. The Mets kept him in center field, but moved him from the leadoff spot to hitting fourth Thursday night.
The 24-year-old had made three other starts in the cleanup spot in his career, but this was his first this season.
And he responded by going 1-for-3 with a three-run homer.
“I liked it,” Conforto said of hitting in the cleanup spot Thursday night. “I am not too picky about where I hit. I think it’s all the same to me. Leadoff, second, third or fourth, I just definitely want to be at the top, but it definitely doesn’t matter to me.”
Veteran Curtis Granderson was back in right field and Collins said he will most likely use Juan Lagares, who was activated off the DL before the game, in center against lefthanders.
“It’s more the fact that (Conforto’s) been playing out there and Grandy has bounced back and forth and I think we’ll leave him out there for right now and let Grandy play right field,” the Mets manager said. “But obviously late in the games if we get Juan in there we might move Michael over. We’ll wait and see.”
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