Mets tap Dominic Smith for bullpen help

NEW YORK — On Tuesday afternoon, manager Buck Showalter made it clear why the Mets sent first baseman Dominic Smith to Triple-A and called up right-hander Adonis Medina from Syracuse: The major league club needed an additional pitcher. for the bullpen. He hasn’t helped that the starters haven’t given the Mets time lately.

“Mostly, we need a pitcher,” Showalter said. “We’re not going to put our bullpen in jeopardy. We’ve had some short [outings from our starters]. … Let’s try to keep everyone healthy [in the bullpen]. Dom was the option we ended up with. … We have pieces of the bullpen that we really have to be careful with.”

Medina was called up for the sixth time this season. He has a 5.87 ERA in 7 2/3 innings of relief in the majors, but a 2.00 ERA in nine innings in Triple-A.

Smith got off to a slow start this year, hitting 16-for-86 (.186) with 14 RBI in 39 games with New York. In 19 games since Smith’s four-hit night against the Phillies on May 1, which clinched his spot before the May 2 roster deadline, he has hit just .130/.226/.217 with seven RBIs. and five walks.

The Mets hope he can go back to being the Dominic Smith of 2020, when he was one of the best hitters in baseball at .316 and ranked third on the Mets with 2.0 WAR.

“In the situation we’re in, we have a very good first baseman in Pete Alonso,” Showalter said. “[Smith] You probably feel like every at-bat, you have to hit four home runs in one at-bat.

“[We want him to] settle into a comfort zone, just remind yourself of the good [he is]. He is a confident guy. I see the work that he keeps doing, trying to be perfect every at-bat. It’s hard to do in this game. The launchers are really good. Just try to establish some consistent at-bats and know that he will be there every day. He just gets into a groove where he can be who he’s capable of being.”

How did Smith take the news? Perhaps general manager Billy Eppler said it best.

“I think any of us would take it if we heard from our employer. It was tough, but I made sure to articulate how good a baseball player I thought I was and still am,” Eppler said. “He’s a point of adversity. But he has our support, and any resource that he can help with, anything that he needs from us, he has.”

With Smith in the minor leagues, Mark Canha will most likely serve as a backup first baseman. He has played 118 major league games at the position during his career. The Mets also have other players on the roster who can watch the time early on. Eduardo Escobar has played 18 games there, while Patrick Mazeika has played 98 games at first base in the Minors.

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