Dominic Smith missed 73 of the Mets' 162 regular-season games last fall, but in his unlikely return for the finale, there was no better way that he could have catapulted himself into the spring.
After he spent majority of the 2019 season on the 60-day Injured List with a stress fracture in his left foot, Smith returned for the Mets' Sept. 29 game against the Atlanta Braves. In the bottom of the 11th inning, he stepped up as a pinch hitter with a three-run walk-off home run to center field and sent the Mets into the offseason with a 7-6 win.
Talking with SNY's Steve Gelbs from the dugout during Wednesday's 4-2 spring training loss to the Houston Astros at Clover Park in Port St. Lucie, Florida, Smith did not diminish the impact of the walk-off homer.
"It meant a lot," Smith said. "That's obviously, probably, one of the biggest home runs I've hit in my short career. But it just made me more motivated to get back in the lab and start working and getting ready for this year, because I knew we had a special ballclub and I knew that it would be situations where I would come up and have to do something big. So I just kind of really worked on the mental side of the game and really wanted to take that into this season and I'm excited for it."
Smith, who turns 25 on June 15, was selected by the Mets with the No. 11 overall pick in the first round of the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft. He worked his way up through the minor leagues, splitting time between Triple-A and the big leagues from 2017-18, before breaking spring training last March with the Mets. After he slashed .282/.355/.525 with 11 home runs and 25 RBI through 89 games in 2019, Smith hopes to pick up where his season left off, and he keeps his approach simple.
"Like I've been telling you guys for years now, I just want to take what the defense is giving me and not try to do too much," Smith said. "I see the best hitters in the game, that's what they do. It's not always about making or having the big home run, the big hit. It's all about moving the line, getting the next guy up to the plate and you can do that simply by taking a good approach up there and just trying to hit the ball and not do too much."