Mancuso: Dominic Smith Mishandled Again?

Why is Dominic Smith in left field? Only Mets manager Mickey Callaway can answer that question, and after a blunder Monday night at Citi Field that epitomized this lost season there is still no answer as to why Smith is not at first base.

Unless this is a continued plan for the Mets to convert Smith, drafted to play first base, there is no excuse for the explanation of inexperience as Callaway said after four hours and a 13-inning 2-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants.

And in another losing season, there is no room for excuses.  The Mets are playing out the season and looking at who will deserve what in 2019. They gave the Giants a gift Monday night that extended their fading postseason hopes.

However, a win is a win and this loss was as devastating as the many seen at Citi Field the past few years. Dominic Smith botched a play that was for Amed Rosario. The irony is these are the two and once highly touted prospects, except Rosario is at his shortstop position and Smith was in left field and should be at first base.

But the manager kept Wilmer Flores at first base.  This isn’t who’s on first, what’s on second? It’s playing sound, fundamental baseball and Smith, who got another reprieve with Brandon Nimmo placed on the 10-day DL, showed again that the Mets have not used this 23-year old youngster properly.

You can leave that for Tuesday night at Citi Field because every indication is that Dominic Smith will be in left field again. Jay Bruce is almost ready for a rehab assignment and when that happens, and unless Flores sits down, Smith should be back at first base.

But in all honesty, can you blame Smith? He has been back-and -forth, Las Vegas to Citi Field and quicker than a 7-train subway ride to the ballpark.  It’s got to the point of realizing that the Mets may not know where Dominic Smith belongs in the lineup and there are remaining questions about his future.

Said Smith about the botched play: “That play, I was playing deep because it’s late in the game. It’s a high fly ball and it’s pretty shallow  so you’re running in hard and kind of take your eyes off it. You don’t really know where the infielder is and that’s pretty much what happened.”

Inexperience, perhaps. Again, the mishandling of this one-time and highly touted Mets prospect. 

Smith was inserted in left the prior inning when Callaway made a double switch. He ran into Rosario in what looked like a routine play that would have gotten the Mets out of an inning with two runners on.

But the ball was all Rosario’s, who waved off Smith in short left, thus the inexperience factor for a first baseman who should not be in left field in a tight ballgame that went extra innings .A routine play for a natural outfielder, and though the loss extended this season of Mets misery, it was Smith who took the blame and Mickey Callaway came up with the excuses.

Of course all of this would have been avoided had the Mets scored runs at home for Zack Wheeler, who failed to get a career high seventh straight win after another outstanding 7.0 innings and 113 pitches with 10 strikeouts. This time it was not Jacob deGrom that was the hard luck starter for a Mets team that has averaged 3.2 runs at home.

But Callaway had this explanation about that blunder and Smith in left field which resulted in a gift win for the Giants:

“It’s inexperience. He hasn’t done that often. He’ll get better at it. I think that’s one of the reasons we’re trying to get him reps when he’s in Triple-A in left. I think that he’s got a learning curve that he’s got to go through to play left field the way that he’s capable of playing.”

Had this game meant anything, and many haven’t for the Mets in months, this would not be a proper explanation and perhaps Smith would not be in left. Had Nimmo not been on the disabled list then Smith is probably not in that outfield spot and part of a double switch by the manager.

Which leads to more questions, and it’s not all about Smith. Was this another mistake made by a rookie manager?  Callaway has made more than one bad in-game decision this season and this goes down as another.

But it all leads to questions again about Dominic Smith? One botched play again and it involved Dominic Smith who may not know his role with the Mets. First base is obviously not the plan and now we know that left field isn’t either.

Then again, this was a loss that has been so much of another Mets season of misery.

Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected]  Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso  Watch Sports With Rich/All Bases Covered on You-Tube Live

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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