When Dominic Smith arrived late for the scheduled team meeting Friday, new manager Mickey Callaway seized the opportunity as a teachable moment. The new Mets manager responded swiftly, scratching his young first baseman from the starting lineup.
Good for Callaway, bad for Smith.
The decision sent a message to Smith, his teammates and the organization about leadership. Since he was named manager last November, Callaway has been preaching “accountability.” Unfortunately for Smith he set the example of what “accountability” looks like in a Mets uniform.
Callaway told the media:
“We have expectations for our guys, and if they don’t meet that expectation, we have to hold them accountable, and that’s why Dom wasn’t in the lineup today. The guys know the things we’re saying are going to be done.”
There is a slice of good news in what happened to Smith: One, it happened early (the first day of spring games), and two, Callaway set a business-like tone that echoed throughout the clubhouse in Port St. Lucie. “I’m here to help these guys be a better person as well,” added Callaway. “Not just be their coach and help them perform on the field. I take that very seriously. It’s the first thing we said in our meetings.”
The newest Met Todd Frazier also showed his veteran leadership in the clubhouse, offering a gentle, but firm message:
“He’s a young guy. He’s still trying to understand the game. Can’t really have that kind of stuff, though. It’s one of those things where you’d rather be overly early than five minutes late. He’ll learn from it, definitely. … He made a big mistake, and we know that won’t happen again.”
After the news broke Friday, Mets fans joined me on Twitter to share their thoughts: