Dodgers’ Will Smith searching for his mechanics at the plate

LOS ANGELES ― Will Smith’s bat is hardly the source of the Dodgers’ misery.

Smith carried a respectable .794 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) into Tuesday’s game against the Seattle Mariners.  He’s batted fourth or fifth all but once this season when his name is in the lineup.

In a down year for batting average league-wide, Smith was hitting .242 through Monday. All major league catchers were hitting .221 as a group.

Yet Smith was quick to critique his own performance at the plate on a Zoom call with reporters Tuesday. He said he hasn’t often had his “A” swing when he steps into the batter’s box this year.

“I definitely don’t think it’s a mental lapse,” Smith said. “I’m pretty focused in the box every at-bat. It’s a mechanical thing. There are so many moving parts, so many things you have to time up and sync correctly. If one little thing gets messed up it causes other problems. You might not know exactly what’s causing what.”

Smith batted .289 with a .980 OPS in 37 games during the abbreviated 2020 regular season. In the playoffs, he went 14 for 63 (.222) with two home runs and 13 RBIs across 18 games. More than the league adjusting to Smith in his first true full season, it appears Smith feels his regression is self-induced.

“For me, it’s just sticking to the process,” he said. “Sticking to what I know I do well. Talking to the hitting coaches, talking to the other players. … What do they see on video? What do I see on video? It’s just a constant conversation with those guys, and especially the hitting coaches, try to figure it out and get back on track.”

To say Manager Dave Roberts has bigger issues on his plate would be an understatement. The Dodgers currently have eight players on the injured list, including former National League MVP Cody Bellinger and a starting pitcher (Dustin May) who’s out for the season following Tommy John surgery on Tuesday.

To the extent Smith is struggling at all, there’s a silver lining in his numbers.

“I do see that he’s grinding through at-bats and I feel good when he’s in the box that something good’s going to happen,” Roberts said. “To know what he’s OPSing and see the at-bats each day, and know that he hasn’t had his ‘A’ swing, is pretty encouraging for all of us.”


May’s Tommy John surgery went well according to a source, and the pitcher did not have any nerve damage in his right elbow. The procedure was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache. According to the source, May is targeting a July 2022 return.

David Price threw off the Dodger Stadium mound and also took part in fielding drills Tuesday afternoon, a significant step forward in his recovery from a right hamstring strain. Price “didn’t seem like he was compensating in his delivery and his stuff was good,” Roberts said.

Price is scheduled to pitch to teammates this week, Roberts said, and he could rejoin the Dodgers’ bullpen without a minor-league rehabilitation assignment.

Bellinger continued to make progress after running at “60 percent” speed on Monday in Arizona, Roberts said. Bellinger suffered a hairline fracture in his left leg on April 5. He’s expected to go out on a minor-league rehabilitation assignment before returning to the Dodgers.

Tony Gonsolin (shoulder) is scheduled to throw two innings against hitters this week in Arizona, Roberts said.

A.J. Pollock was held out of the starting lineup for a third consecutive day because of a hamstring injury, but Roberts said the left fielder will not go on the injured list.


Sitting in the Dodger Stadium outfield Tuesday, Mookie Betts took part in a Zoom Q-and-A with children from Catholic Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Los Angeles County as part of the Dodgers Love LA Community Tour.

This season, players are bound by an operations manual that discourages indoor gatherings of 10 or more people away from the ballpark – a typical setting for these Q-and-A sessions in years past. Betts said he hasn’t gotten to do “anything” in Los Angeles because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I feel more at home, now that I have a permanent home,” he said. “But I still haven’t gotten to be out in the L.A. scene, see what it’s about. I’ll feel fully home once I know what goes on in L.A.”


The Dodgers recalled outfielder Luke Raley prior to the game. Raley took the roster spot of catcher Keibert Ruiz, who was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City on Monday. Raley entered Tuesday’s game with a .206 batting average and one home run in 14 games with the Dodgers this season. … Pitcher Josiah Gray, the consensus number-1 prospect in the Dodgers’ organization, was a very late lineup scratch for Oklahoma City. Gray, 23, warmed up in the outfield prior to his scheduled start in Round Rock, Texas, before being replaced by Ryan Moseley.


Dodgers (LHP Julio Urias, 4-1, 3.59 ERA) vs. Seattle Mariners (RHP Justin Dunn, 1-0, 3.51 ERA), Wednesday, 7 p.m., SportsNet LA, 570 AM

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