PORT ST. LUCIE — Dominic Smith expects he will be playing left field Thursday night when the Mets open their season in Washington.
Between now and then, there is always the possibility talks will rekindle between MLB and the MLBPA to implement the universal designated hitter, but Smith isn’t counting on it.
“I would be surprised,” Smith said Saturday after blasting two homers in the Mets’ 8-3 exhibition victory over the Astros at Clover Park. “I haven’t heard much chatter. I guess it’s still on the table, but I would be extremely surprised if there’s a DH this year.”
Smith said the Mets — who would benefit more than many teams if the universal DH were implemented, because it would allow them to reconfigure defensively — are focused on playing National League baseball.
“We haven’t really thought about the DH because we have been seeing the pitchers hit for the last 1 ½ weeks, I have been out in left field every day,” Smith said. “Guys have been prepping to come off the bench and hit, that is what you have been seeing the last week and we are going to continue to prep that way.
“If [the DH] happens, it happens, but this lineup is going to be good with or without the DH, so we just try to sit there and focus on what is on the table. As of right now there is no DH, so that is how we are taking every day.”
Smith’s two homers gave him four this spring and boosted his OPS to .888. That has occurred in a lineup in which Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor, among others, have sizzled.
“If we are locked in and we’re focused, I think we can compete with any lineup in baseball,” Smith said. “We have a pretty deep lineup from top to bottom. A lot of guys can grind out [at-bats] and work the count, put together good ABs. When we have a lineup like that it makes it extremely tough on the pitcher to really get in a groove.”
Smith, who shuffled mostly between first base and DH last season, said he’s satisfied with how he has played left field this spring.
“I think that I am really happy with the jumps I am getting on the ball,” he said. “I am reading a lot of swings, my first step is improving and just the jumps I am getting and the routes I am taking, it’s pretty good. Obviously I still want to work on some things. Work on my arm, accuracy and making some more plays at the wall.”