Will Smith makes strong first impression with Dodgers, but a return to Triple-A is imminent

first_img How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies The Dodgers’ confidence in Smith has been evident by his playing time. Though they opted to promote Rocky Gale when Russell Martin went on the Injured List with a lower back injury in April, Smith has started four of the six games since Austin Barnes went on the IL Monday with a mild groin injury. The veteran Martin has started twice.Smith’s learning curve was sped up by a non-playing internship last September. He spent the month with the team, taking part in all the preparation expected of Dodgers catchers (though he wasn’t added to the active roster).“I think it helped a lot. I really do,” Roberts said. “Even outside the scouting and how we advance and prepare for hitters, him being around the guys last September and seeing him in this environment helped him and also those guys being comfortable with him being around a major-league clubhouse.“All that we did last September and this spring helped Will’s maturity.”Offensively, Smith made some swing changes during the off-season and showed them off at Triple-A where he was batting .290 with a .954 OPS before being promoted by the Dodgers. He had three hits in his first 11 big-league at-bats but it remains to be seen how the 24-year-old’s offense would hold up over extended exposure to major-league pitching.Related Articles Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start “I think that’s a fair question,” Roberts said. “Fortunately I don’t think we’re going to have to answer that long-term question right now.”Barnes can be activated from the Injured List when the Dodgers open a series in San Francisco next Friday. Roberts made it clear that Smith will go back to Triple-A Oklahoma City then in order to “continue the growth and let him take every-day at-bats” rather than stay with the Dodgers as part of a cumbersome three-catcher group.“Right now, I think just to get him up here for a first run-through has been a positive thing for all of us,” he said.TURNER STATUSThird baseman Justin Turner was out of the Dodgers’ starting lineup for a third consecutive day Saturday. But Roberts said Turner should be back in action by Monday at the latest.“It is a little bit more severe than I anticipated,” Roberts said of the left hamstring injury Turner suffered in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s game. “With that, it’s still a minor situation. He ran today, said it felt considerably better. Could he have played today? Absolutely. But for us, the way guys are playing, just to keep him off it for another day — if it’s tomorrow that he’s back in there, great, and if he’s not, then it’s Monday.”UP NEXTPhillies (RHP Nick Pivetta, 3-1, 7.71 ERA) at Dodgers (LHP Rich Hill, 1-1, 2.73 ERA), Sunday, 1:10 p.m., SportsNet LA (where available), AM 570 Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error LOS ANGELES — When Will Smith spent the spring in big-league camp, the Dodgers thought he was ready defensively to play in the major leagues and that his bat needed some refinement.As he is about to become a one-week veteran of the big leagues, that spring training scouting report looks pretty accurate.“For me, the thing that’s the most encouraging is something we expected the whole time; that his pulse was going to be good and the moment wasn’t going to be too big for him,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Saturday. “His swing has gotten a lot shorter than I recall. To be able to handle different pitches and put an at-bat together, I think that’s been exciting for all of us.“But the way he handled the staff and the throwing, all that stuff — that’s no surprise.”last_img

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