Smith set to return to starting lineup

First baseman dealing with sore right wrist

July 1st, 2018

MIAMI -- When asked about developing young players at the big league level, Mets manager Mickey Callaway frequently talks about the balance between player development and trying to win now.

Turns out 's recent absence from the lineup has nothing to do with that balance. Smith has been sidelined for most of the last week due to a sore right wrist, which he initially felt last Wednesday during a game against the Pirates. Since that time, the Mets have largely played short-handed, using Smith for a lone pinch-hit opportunity Friday in Miami, then again Sunday late in their 5-2 win over the Marlins. After flying out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth, Smith played the game's final two innings at first base.

Callaway called it "a little wrist problem" that lasted only a day, calling Smith "totally healthy, ready to go." The manager indicated Smith will return to the starting lineup when the Mets open a two-game series Tuesday in Toronto.

But the club was worried enough about the issue to send Smith for an MRI last week, and administer a cortisone injection in his wrist. When asked about the testing, Smith hesitated before acknowledging the MRI, which was negative. Callaway said the injection sidelined him only for a day.

"I'm just trying to take it easy on it," Smith said. "They're just trying to give my wrist a couple extra days."

In 17 games, Smith is batting .222 with one home run and a .655 OPS, numbers similar to what he produced during his rookie season last year. With on the disabled list, the Mets have used as their everyday first baseman.

Issue or coincidence?

Finishing 0-for-5 with two strikeouts in Sunday's loss, outfielder fell to 1-for-18 with eight strikeouts since taking a Rich Hill pitch off his right pinkie on June 24. Nimmo downplayed any correlation between the injury and his slump, stressing multiple times that his finger feels fine.

"I'm super late. My bat speed is not there," Nimmo said. "But my hand feels fine, and so I don't know what the problem is right now. … I don't know if I'm compensating. Maybe I'm just swinging and I'm not feeling pain because I'm not swinging the same. But when we go back and look at the video, I'm swinging the same. I just am a tick late."

The slump has dragged Nimmo's slash line down to .264/.381/.528. His .909 OPS still ranks fourth in the National League.

Making progress

Bruce has added cage work to his routine as he works his way back from hip, back and foot injuries. On the disabled list since June 18, Bruce is scheduled to take full batting practice at Citi Field during the team's off-day Thursday.