Why Dominic Smith isn’t answering his congratulations messages

PHILADELPHIA — Dominic Smith left Citizens Bank Park late Friday night looking for his mom and older brother. The Mets prospect had not talked to his family since Thursday when he told her he had finally gotten called up to the big leagues. Smith broke his phone in the airport Thursday night rushing to make his flight for his debut.

“I am pretty sure they will be around here,” Smith said.

Indeed, his mother was on hand to see Smith play over five innings and get his first hit in the big league Friday night in the Mets 7-6 win over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

It’s been such a whirlwind, Smith hasn’t had time for the logistics.

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“I don’t think it’s sunk it. Just to get back on the field, get out there and play some. I had a great time,” Smith said. “And we picked up the W.”

The 22-year old singled on a groundball up the middle in the fourth inning to get his first hit. He struggled a little bit around the bag, something the Mets attributed to nerves.

“Nervous, that pretty easy to see,” Mets manager Terry Collins said was his impression of Smith Friday night. “He’ll get it, he’ll be just like (Amed Rosario) here in a couple days. He’ll calm down and realize it’s the same game played by better players, but he’s one of them.”

That is what the rest of the Mets season is about, getting their young players adjusted to the big leagues. Smith comes with a reputation for being a smooth defensive first baseman and a solid contact hitter.

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“One of the things I like about his offense is he’s always used all part of the ballpark. He’s a left-center field gap guy, doesn’t try to hit the ball out of the ballpark, makes very good contact,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “Defensively, he’s got a great set of hands. He’s got a good arm, handles himself well over there, moves better than people give him credit for.

“I’m just hoping that everything I heard about him and how he played in Vegas he continues to do it here.”

The Mets are still not sure that Dominic Smith will ever fit the mold of a power-hitting first baseman.

The Mets are still not sure that Dominic Smith will ever fit the mold of a power-hitting first baseman.

(Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

In 114 games with Las Vegas, Smith hit .330 with a .905 OPS. He had 16 homers and 76 RBI in 457 at-bats. Smith’s power has increased significantly this season, which is not surprising since he was playing in the high altitudes of the Pacific Coast League.

Smith thinks it is more about changes he made to his swing.

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“I think it was more the stuff I did my swing. In last month, I was able to lift ball and I worked on some mechanical adjustments,” Smith said. “I think I am learning how to really use my legs to get the ball in air. That has definitely helped me in that category.”

The Mets are not sure that Smith will ever fit the mold of a power-hitting first baseman.

“I think only time will tell. I said the same thing years ago about James Loney. I thought James Loney was going to learn how to lift the ball, get it up in the air because he was such a good hitter. He’s settled to be a good hitter,” Collins said. “There’s nothing wrong with that and I just told Dom today, don’t try to change anything. Do what you did in Vegas, the more years you get in, the easier it will be for you to make adjustments and learn how to do some things differently.

“Certainly I think he’ll have the strength to hit home runs.”

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The numbers the Mets have been concerned about with Smith are the ones they have seen climbing on the scales. Smith made a major commitment to losing weight this offseason after some prodding by the organization. He has put some back on, he admitted to struggling in the minor leagues with eating habits, but is committed to watching his weight.

“We get per diems and our per diem for a lot of players can’t afford to just go get a nice meal, get a nice dinner. Clubhouses down there, they don’t really give you the best options, because they are trying to save money as well,” Smith said. “It could be tough. Late after games, there’s not much open. Especially in those smaller cities, you are surrounded by Fast foot and that’s where the majority of your stops are. It definitely can be be extremely difficult down here. Up here should be easier.” 

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