Dominic Smith heard the same words directly from Sandy Alderson during his exit meeting in October.
The rookie first baseman was hardly surprised to hear the Mets GM declare earlier this month that the team’s first-base job isn’t his heading into 2018, or that Smith must compete for playing time in spring training.
“We had a great conversation. We both agreed that I didn’t perform like I would like, and like he said, the job isn’t mine. It’s not secured, it’s not mine. I didn’t leave that meeting upset or hurt or mad or angry. I left it motivated,” Smith said Monday night in a sitdown with SNY. “I’m not taking anything for granted. I know I didn’t perform like I know I’m capable of. I know I didn’t perform like I would like and I’m definitely going to work my butt off this spring training. I’m going to spring training in shape and going to spring training ready to win a job.”
The 22-year-old Smith belted nine home runs but slashed just .198/.262/.395 over 167 at-bats during a late-season call-up to the Mets, prompting the team to consider adding a veteran at first base to compete with their 2013 first-round pick. Carlos Santana, Logan Morrison and Adam Lind have been among the more proven free-agents the Mets have discussed signing.
Asked if that represents further motivation entering what should be his first full season in the majors, Smith replied: “Definitely, definitely. I grew up my whole life beating odds and overcoming odds. I come from LA, I’m from the inner city, South Central. I’m not trying to come up here and get super-emotional, but it does motivate me when he says stuff like that. And he should say stuff like that, because it’s the truth. It’s not like he’s saying a bunch of lies; he’s saying the truth. So me as a young man, of course I’m going to listen to the truth and I’m going to implement it and work on stuff to get better.”
Smith added that his tough upbringing provides further impetus to succeed, and he’s taking steps to improve his eating habits, physical conditioning and his plate discipline for next season.
“People look at me and say ‘I feel like nothing bothers you, why are you so happy?’ So me struggling for months in the big leagues and fans yelling at me, it’s fine, because I know what I’m capable of doing,” Smith said. “I’m driven. I’m for sure driven, because I don’t want to go back to where I came from. I know that. My time is now. It has to be now. I came up and I had my six weeks, and it’s now it’s time to really show them, or else they’ll find something else to replace me. That’s just sports, period.”
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