Dominic Smith started the offseason off the wrong way as he rode the pine in the New York Mets first spring game Friday due to tardiness.
It has been a mercurial offseason for Dominic Smith, the New York Mets 22-year-old first baseman. It all started with a public lambasting from general manager Sandy Alderson regarding Smith’s weight, which Smith addressed by reinventing his diet and exercise routine to the tune of losing 30 pounds.
Smith was attempting to return to the team’s good graces and win the starting first base job this spring. Even after signing Adrian Gonzalez, the Mets seemed content to let their young top prospect compete for playing time in camp.
Dom Smith gets a wake up call: https://t.co/qlRaWSWhTb
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) February 23, 2018
In a situation where he had to do everything right, Smith just did one of the easiest things wrong. On a day that he was penciled into the cleanup spot, he showed up late to the ballpark.
It was the first game of the exhibition season, and the Mets weren’t asking Smith to have a three-hit game, just to show up on-time and get back into the routine of playing. This is why it’s even more disappointing to see Smith blowing this opportunity.
Rookie manager Mickey Callaway wasted no time sending a message not only to Smith, but to all of his new players as he sent the young lefty right to the bench. “We have expectations for guys,” he told MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo. “And if they don’t meet those expectations, we have to hold them accountable.”
Mickey Callaway on Dominic Smith being late: "We have expectations for guys. And if they don't meet those expectations, we have to hold them accountable." #Mets
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) February 23, 2018
After slashing .198/.262/.395 last season, Smith does not have the luxury or status to be showing up late to anything. So the main question becomes, did Smith already blow his shot?
My answer to that question would be no, although he certainly did not help his case. The important thing to note in these situations is the character with which an individual responds to the situation at hand.
And just like with his weight loss, Smith responded with resilience and responsibility.
“It’s unacceptable in any locker room, no matter the Mets or wherever you play,” Smith told Matt Ehalt of NorthJersey.com. “It’s unacceptable and my fault, and something that won’t happen again.”
Not only did Smith make it to all his necessary team obligations on time this Saturday, he made an impact on the field as well. Smith had a hit in a 10-5 Mets loss to the St. Louis Cardinals; he also scored two runs.
This was a big step in the right direction for Smith, who reportedly met with David Wright and Gonzalez to discuss the adversity and how to move forward.
Besides a good day at the plate and a timely arrival at the facility, Smith has another thing going for him. Smith has never been involved in a situation like this since being drafted by the Mets out of high school.
With no history of this type of behavior, it will likely be just considered an isolated incident and a learning experience for the young player.
Whether the Mets think this was serious enough to impact their decision on his opening day roster status is still unknown. For now, it seems Smith received an early reality check to just how easy it can be to squander an opportunity in the big leagues.