Mets prospects Amed Rosario (l.) and Dominic Smith (r.) are close to being called up to the big leagues.
SAN DIEGO — Dominic Smith was noticeably absent from the Las Vegas 51s’ lineup Thursday night, posted hours after the Mets dealt away first baseman Lucas Duda. The organization’s top first-base prospect is expected to be called up to take Duda’s place “soon,” a Mets source said.
With the trade sending Duda to the Rays going down hours before the Mets series finale against the Padres, the Mets moved Jay Bruce to first base. Mets manager Terry Collins said Bruce would not play first Friday night against Mariners’ lefthander Ariel Miranda.
Collins said he did not know when Smith would be coming up.
“I can’t say,” Collins said when asked if Smith would be called up to help at first base. “I do expect to have (injured second baseman) Neil Walker back this weekend.”
Smith had played in 12 straight games before Thursday night’s 51s’ game in Nashville. He is hitting .337 with 15 home runs and a .914 OPS.
Collins did talk about Smith in general, however.
“I know he is having a nice year in the (Pacific Coast League),” Collins said. “I’d classify him as a good player, great defender, good hitter. You’ve got to be careful rating power in the coast league, so we’ll make those adjustments here.”
Dominic Smith. (USA TODAY Network/USA TODAY Network/Sipa USA)
A scout who evaluated Smith last month, however, cautioned that the recent power he has shown is probably more a function of him playing in the high-altitude PCL and said that his conditioning will always be a concern.
After years in player development with the Dodgers and Mets — and his first four seasons in the big leagues with the Mets — Collins is very familiar with handling young players making their first foray into the big leagues. He knows that the eventual arrival of Smith and top prospect Amed Rosario mean it’s time to “play the kids.”
“They gotta go play,” Collins said. “Certainly, obviously, the development does not stop because they become big leaguers. You have to continue to teach and work on things. They have to learn what they have to do up here to have success. Obviously they are here because they are talented and that plays well early and then adjustments are made. You saw that a year ago with Michael (Conforto), but I am a true believer when you bring young guys up they have to play. They are not used to sitting. They have to play. You saw it with (Wilmer Flores). “You saw it with Mike they are better off when they are in the lineup.”
Walker had played four games with the 51s’ in a rehab start and was also not in the lineup Thursday.
Utility infielder T.J. Rivera has been dealing with “soreness,” and a “little pain,” in his right elbow, which is one reason the Mets had to slide Jay Bruce into first base Thursday night.
“It’s been bothering me for a little bit,” Rivera said. “It wasn’t something that happened, not one thing, but it’s not too bad. I am just trying to figure out how to play with it.”
T.J. Rivera has been dealing with soreness as of late. (Frank Franklin II/AP)
Rivera started Tuesday night and was able to pinch hit on Wednesday. Collins said he expected Rivera to be available to hit on Thursday as well.
With Steven Matz having struggled in four straight starts, including getting shelled on Wednesday night, pitching coach Dan Warthen said he and the lefthander made time to study video Thursday.
“His bullpens are good, everything else is fine, it just looks like he’s trying to do too much with his fastball,” Warthen said. “It tells me he is trying too hard.”
With Matz long history of injuries, the Mets are reassured that the Long Island native has said that his surgically-repaired elbow is “fine.”
“He feels good, so that’s good news, now we’ve got to straighten him out,” Collins said.
Matz has allowed 21 earned runs in 13.1 innings pitched over his last four starts.