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Smith's scooter a symbol of Mets' surge

@AnthonyDiComo
August 13, 2019

ATLANTA -- Dominic Smith's knee scooter did not fit quite so well rolling up and down the aisle of the Mets’ charter flight. So when the Mets flew this week from New York to Atlanta, Smith turned the scooter upside down and shoved it into an empty row of seats,

ATLANTA -- Dominic Smith's knee scooter did not fit quite so well rolling up and down the aisle of the Mets’ charter flight. So when the Mets flew this week from New York to Atlanta, Smith turned the scooter upside down and shoved it into an empty row of seats, transporting it to its new destination.

As much as walk-off hits and pitching successes, or Polar Bears and Flying Squirrels, Smith’s scooter has become a symbol of the Mets’ charge up the National League standings. Shortly after doctors diagnosed Smith with a stress reaction in his left foot last month, his agency had the vehicle shipped to the Mets’ clubhouse to help him move around. He rests his left leg, which is in a walking boot, on a padded seat, while he shoves off the ground using his right foot.

Smith has had the scooter customized with a vanity license plate that reads “LFGM 2019” -- a nod to Pete Alonso's hashtag rallying cry. Smith may add a second license plate to the back of the vehicle, plus maybe some “spinning wheels” and a bell to alert teammates that he’s scooting behind them.

“I’d rather never, ever have gotten the scooter,” Smith said. “But if I’m in a boot, I might as well make it as fun as possible, and keep it light. Maybe I’ll pimp out the scooter and trick it out a little bit, and get myself rolling around in it.”

Smith had been using the vehicle for several days before it made its grand public debut following Michael Conforto's walk-off hit last Friday at Citi Field. In addition to entrenching the scooter into Mets lore, that night aided Smith’s argument to join the team on its current road trip through Atlanta and Kansas City.

Although Smith will stay in a boot for at least another week and is nowhere close to returning from the injured list, he lobbied general manager Brodie Van Wagenen to let him remain around the team as much as possible.

“I know that when I got hurt, a lot of the guys were bummed out,” Smith said. “A lot of it was the guys having my back, and telling them that they missed the energy in the dugout, and they wanted me to be around. I give a lot of credit to my team. We’re a family.”

Smith is far more than just a cheerleader, though. Before games, he receives treatment daily, going through a series of blood flow restriction training exercises to keep his injured leg strong. During games, he talks to his teammates about scouting reports and pitcher tendencies that he notices.

“I feel like I’m a part of it because I’m in the dugout and cheering them on,” Smith said. “It’s fun. This little run we’re on, we’ve known our capability. But we’re finally putting it together, finally doing it. The least I can do is go out here every day and cheer them on, and give them a little confidence.”

Surgery for Rhame

Mets reliever Jacob Rhame underwent season-ending ulnar nerve transposition surgery on Tuesday, according to a source.

A significant part of the Mets’ 2018 bullpen, Rhame began experiencing nerve irritation in Spring Training. He battled through it all year as he bounced back and forth between the Majors and Minors, appearing in only five MLB games. In April, Rhame received a two-game suspension for throwing near the head of Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins, then spent most of the next three months at Triple-A Syracuse. Upon his return last month, Rhame served his suspension and pitched twice more before undergoing surgery.

All told, Rhame posted a 4.26 ERA in the Majors this season. He expects to be ready in time for Spring Training.

Roster move

In an effort to keep their bullpen as potent as possible, the Mets swapped out long men on Tuesday, recalling Drew Gagnon from Syracuse and optioning Chris Mazza.

The Mets made the move mostly because Mazza had not pitched since his recall on Aug. 2. As a result, the Mets felt Gagnon, who took a perfect game into the eighth inning last week for Syracuse, has the potential to be sharper. But if the Mets similarly go 10 days without using Gagnon, they could reverse the move.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.