For a baseball player, not knowing when (and in which particular spot) he’s going to play can be difficult from a focus standpoint. That’s why pinch-hitting is easier said than done, for example. You have to be ready at all times, as you don’t know when your number is going to be called. For the New York Mets‘ Dominic Smith, this isn’t new.
He knows about unexpected things, and life has taught him how to handle them. Last season, he was briefly demoted to Triple-A, and he still remembers the shock.
â€œI just feel like that’s always going to be in the back of a young player’s mind because this is a business and it’s tough,â€ Smith said to Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News, recalling the situation.
The demotion was short, as it lasted just six days. It came as a surprise since he was raking to the tune of a .333 average, two doubles and four RBI in his first 29 games.
Speaking about unexpected things, he had achieved most of that success in an unpredictable pinch-hitting role from the bench. After all, Smith, a first baseman, shared the same position as breakout star Pete Alonso.
The Mets’ pinch-hit star
Last season as a pinch-hitter, Smith had a 21.6 BB% and a 16.2 K% mark, with a .286/.459/.571 line and a 1.031 OPS. His 175 wRC+ was fantastic, and he hit two doubles and two home runs in 37 plate appearances.
For Smith, is about letting go of things he cannot control. â€œAll I know is the thing I can control â€” and thatâ€™s how hard I play, my preparation and the energy I put out there and being a good teammate,â€ he said to Thosar. â€œYou canâ€™t (think about being optioned or traded), because if I think about it too much itâ€™s going to take me away from how I perform on the field and my everyday duty as a professional baseball player.
â€œSo all I can do is keep a smile on my face, have fun and try to make the most out of everything.â€
His role in 2020 will be similar to last year’s. He will occasionally play the outfield and he’ll pinch-hit a bunch while also playing some first base when Alonso gets some rest.
“Personally, I just want to help the team win,â€ he said. â€œI mean thatâ€™s all I care about, I feel like thatâ€™s all this team cares about. We were three games away from making the playoffs last year so, as a young team, that makes you more hungry and more team-oriented.â€