PHILADELPHIA -- For much of the offseason, Dominic Smith profiled as the Mets' starting first baseman. Even after the team signed Adrian Gonzalez, it seemed sensible to think Smith, the former second-ranked prospect in the Mets' organization, could put pressure on the club with a strong spring.
But Smith missed nearly all of Spring Training with a right quad strain, eliminating any semblance of competition. Only now, with outfielder Jay Bruce on paternity leave, have the Mets called Smith back to the big leagues.
The team on Friday activated Smith for what will likely be a three-day stay with the club, according to manager Mickey Callaway. Bruce will miss all three games in Philadelphia for the birth of his second child.
"I'm excited to be back, and just happy," Smith said. "I knew I had to go down there and get ABs. I'm still working to get to where I want to be."
For Smith, that mostly means learning to get the most out of his new body. Smith says he's lost 35 pounds since October, including seven in seven weeks since Spring Training ended. He was batting .278 with two home runs and an .807 OPS in 31 games at Triple-A Las Vegas. But Smith hit just .198 as a rookie, prompting the Mets to search for first-base help -- and ultimately find it in Gonzalez -- this winter.
"I didn't want to come back up here right away because I knew I wasn't ready," Smith said. "My swing wasn't ready. My legs weren't ready. … These last two weeks, I've probably felt 100 percent, so I'm pretty excited about that."
The Mets' other roster move on Friday involved a player they cannot use -- at least not yet.
The team placed reliever Hansel Robles on the disabled list with a sprained right knee and recalled left-hander Buddy Baumann, who spent Friday serving a one-game suspension for his role in the Padres' on-field altercation with the Rockies last month. San Diego designated Baumann for assignment before he could serve his suspension, and the Mets subsequently claimed him off waivers.
"It's kind of a weird situation," said Baumann, who worked out with the Mets pregame Friday, then returned to the team hotel for the game. "But I've got to serve it."
After joining the Mets' organization, Baumann allowed three runs (one earned) in 4 2/3 innings at Las Vegas, with four strikeouts and four walks.
Robles injured his knee Tuesday in Cincinnati, and he underwent an MRI the following day in New York. That revealed no structural damage beyond a sprain.
Displeased with Jason Vargas' results in his first three starts, the Mets will skip Vargas' next turn through the rotation.
Rather than pitch Tuesday against the Blue Jays, Vargas will throw a simulated game, in which he plans to focus on making quality two-strike pitches without the pressure of a game situation.
"We're going to make sure that we do everything we can to get him in the right spot so he can go out there and compete the way he wants to," Callaway said.
Because the Mets have three off-days in an eight-day span, they can skip Vargas without taxing any of their other four starters. They will reinsert him into the rotation later in their next homestand against the D-backs and Marlins.
"You've got to look yourself in the mirror, and just understand that the job wasn't getting done," said Vargas, who is 0-3 with a 13.86 ERA. "I understood. I totally got it. I need to be able to go out there and help the ball team win, and these past three starts haven't been it."
Two days after the Mets batted out of order in a loss to the Reds, Callaway and Mets coaches met for about 40 minutes to tinker with their lineup procedures. Although Mets officials would not go into detail on what changed, the team is confident the issue will not happen again.
"Something like that should never happen," assistant general manager John Ricco said. "We have processes in place that are supposed to ensure that it doesn't happen. But we all know that mistakes do happen over the course of a year, and over the course of many seasons. The thing you try to do now is make sure that it doesn't happen again."
After the game Wednesday, Callaway also apologized to his players in the clubhouse.
"I called them in after the game, told them I messed up big time," Callaway said, "and that we'd do a better job going forward."
• Catcher Kevin Plawecki left the Mets on Friday to travel to Port St. Lucie, Fla., where he plans to ramp up his rehab. Plawecki, who sustained a hairline fracture in his left hand on April 11, hopes to begin a Minor League rehab assignment after four to five days in Florida. If all goes well, he could return from the disabled list before the end of May.
• The Mets do not expect infielder T.J. Rivera to return from Tommy John surgery until at least July, according to Ricco. Rivera, who underwent the procedure in September, had hoped to return to active duty in as little as seven months, but it now appears he will need at least 10.