Oswalt optioned with Vargas nearing return

Rookie made 3 straight strong starts; Smith recalled for bullpen

July 20th, 2018

NEW YORK -- Rather than allow to remain in the rotation after closing the first half with three consecutive strong starts, the Mets optioned the right-hander to Triple-A Las Vegas and recalled reliever .

Smith will serve as a stopgap until Tuesday, when is set to come off the disabled list and start in Oswalt's place.

"Oswalt made it a little difficult, there's no doubt about that," manager Mickey Callaway said of the decision. "When you look at our team and I look at our team and we evaluate who we are, we are a better team when we have Vargas pitching the way Vargas is capable of, and we have a solid sixth starter down in Triple-A, ready to come up and help us at any point."

Back to the Minors

To make room for on the active roster, the Mets optioned to Triple-A. There, Smith will play mostly left field as the Mets continue to try increasing the natural first baseman's versatility.

"He's still a young player with a lot of talent who needs to play," assistant general manager John Ricco said. "We saw some glimpses and we kept him up here for a little bit, but ultimately the playing time, where we are right now with the way the roster's constituted, wasn't there for him. And we weren't at the point where we were going to hand first base or left field over to him."

During his latest 26-game stint in the Majors, Smith hit just .186 with a .548 OPS.

Injury updates

Outfielder , who has been on the DL since June 18 due to a sore right hip, has not begun swinging a bat. He expects to do so in the coming days, but has already missed more than a month.

"It has not been fun," Bruce said. "This has been a pretty helpless feeling for me, being on the DL. It's tough. I take a lot of pride in coming out every single day and playing."

The news was batter on third baseman , who has been out since July 9 with a left ribcage muscle strain. Frazier worked out with Mets staffers Friday at Yankee Stadium, and appears close to a return.