ATLANTA — As part of the taxi squad this weekend, Dominic Smith is part of the Mets again, but only to a degree.
Smith has a locker in the clubhouse and can work out with the team, but unless an injury occurs, his probable final days with the club will be as a spectator.
“I am literally just here,” Smith said Friday before the Mets lost to the Braves, 5-2, at Truist Park.
Later he joked: “I am like Marshawn Lynch. I am here so I don’t get fined.”
Smith sprained his right ankle on July 16, and during his injured list stint the team traded for another lefty bat, Daniel Vogelbach. Upon Smith’s return from the IL on Aug. 11, he was assigned to Triple-A Syracuse, where he spent the last six weeks.
In two stints overall for Syracuse this season, Smith owned a .284/.367/.472 slash line with 10 homers and 38 RBIs. For the Mets he had a slash line of .194/.276/.284 with no homers and 17 RBIs in 58 games.
Over the winter, the Mets will have to decide whether to tender a contract to the 27-year-old Smith, who received $3.95 million this season. Smith was asked if he thought the Mets would trade him.
“I don’t know if they can,” he said.
But he isn’t conceding that he has played his final game with the organization.
“Who knows, I can be activated somehow and just go crazy,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of unknowns.”
Manager Buck Showalter said he found out Wednesday that Darin Ruf had neck stiffness. The manager admitted he’s hoping that Ruf, who has a .413 OPS since joining the Mets at the trade deadline, had been playing through discomfort and kept quiet about it.
“But I have had him in my office two or three times about what might be going on and what he’s thinking,” Showalter said. “I think [the IL stint] is good for him to kind of clear the mechanism, so to speak. Just take a step back and take use of that, of the fact this created that situation.”
Mets owner Steve Cohen was on the field before the game. It’s his second trip this month to watch the Mets. He was in Milwaukee for the team clinching a postseason berth.
“I like where we are,” Cohen said. “Let’s see if we can finish it.”
Mychal Givens, who has been sidelined because of COVID-19 protocols, is expected to throw in a simulated game on Saturday. The Mets will then assess his readiness for a return, according to Showalter.