Dominic Smith’s career took a big hit a week ago.
Now the moment he has yearned for might be upon us.
The Mets are holding their breath after slugger Pete Alonso left Tuesday’s loss in San Diego after taking a pitch to his hand. X-rays were negative, but manager Buck Showalter wasn’t exactly celebrating after the game. It seems likely Alonso is going to miss a few games at best.
If Alonso is out for an extended period — and remember, outfielder Starling Marte also got hurt — the Mets will be without their best player. And there is no obvious fill-in currently on the roster. Mark Canha and J.D. Davis can play at first base, but they are unlikely to be steady options.
Which brings it back to Smith. He wants to play every day. He might be about to get his wish in a pressure-packed spot, sub-.200 Major League average and all, a few weeks after he tried to talk his way out of town.
Smith has played 75 games at first base over the past three seasons. So that is taken care of. And it’s fair to wonder if he can produce when given consistent at-bats out of necessity.
Smith slashed .316/.377/.616 with 10 home runs and 42 RBI just two years ago. He finished 13th in National League MVP voting during the pandemic season. His 2021 struggles are well documented (83 OPS+ in 145 games), but beggars can’t be choosers. If Alonso is out, the Mets have little choice than to promote Smith — at least in the short-term.
If so, Smith will get the opportunity he has been calling for. And he will need to deliver. The Mets’ fast start has built them a cushion in the NL East, but it is not an insurmountable lead. Especially with the Phillies coming to life. This is a pennant race. Smith had better be ready for what he wished for if it comes to that.