However, Callaway scratched Smith on the updated lineup card when the clubhouse opened on game day.
Right-handed slugger Peter Alonso was penciled in at first base, while lefty-swinging Smith was out.
“I didn’t even see the lineup when I left yesterday, so I didn’t even know,” Smith said in his first interview at his locker.
“It’s spring training. Everybody’s got to get work in and everybody needs ample amount of time to show the coaches what they can do.”
Smith, 22, initially said being taken out of the order wasn’t frustrating and that “it’s the first game, we have a lot more.”
That explanation changed dramatically a few minutes later after a trip to Callaway’s office as Smith met with the media for a second time.
“We had a little discussion. I know everybody’s wondering why I’m not in the lineup today. Yeah, I was late a little bit today,” Smith said.
He said he wasn’t that late but “late enough to be a problem.” He agreed he shouldn’t have cut it that close on time.
“I’m human. I apologized. That’s stuff that shouldn’t happen. It’s unacceptable in any locker room — no matter if it’s the Mets or wherever you play. That’s just something that won’t happen again,” the 2013 first-round draft pick promised.
“This is my job, my career, my livelihood. I feel like I definitely did let them down today.”
Smith hit .198 with 9 homers and 26 RBIs in 49 games for the Mets after being called up from Triple-A Las Vegas, where he hit .330 in 114 games.
With New York signing 35-year-old five-time All-Star Adrian Gonzalez last month, Smith finds himself battling the four-time Gold Glove Award winner for playing time and a roster spot.
Callaway wasn’t at all impressed by Smith’s tardiness.
“It’s a little shocking. He’s trying to win a job, and it’s unfortunate,” Callaway said.
The manager has repeatedly stressed the importance of accountability in his first camp with the Mets. He has said he holds his players to a high standard and they have to own up to their actions.
“We have expectations for guys, and if they don’t meet that expectation, then we have to hold them accountable. That’s why Dom wasn’t in the lineup today,” Callaway said after his club rallied for a 6-2 win over Atlanta.
The manager didn’t say whether or not Smith would start Saturday against St. Louis.
Smith understood the decision and thought it was just.
“He actually was pretty fair. He asked me what I thought the decision should be, and I agreed with him. That’s the only way it should be,” Smith said.
“He’s been preaching that since day one — accountability.”
Third baseman Todd Frazier, who has a strong reputation as a clubhouse leader, said Smith would learn from his mistake: “He’s a young guy. He’s still trying to understand the game. Can’t really have that kind of stuff, though. You’d rather be overly early than five minutes late. You see he’s not playing today.” … Five students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School walked up to home plate with Mets captain David Wright to deliver the lineup card prior to New York’s game against Atlanta. The Parkland, Florida, school lost 14 students and three teachers in the Feb. 14 shooting. Mets players wore hats with SD logos in practice and during the game. The Mets will sign the caps and auction them off to support those affected by the tragedy at the Broward County school. … Wheeler allowed a leadoff single but recorded a pair of strikeouts in his one inning of scoreless work. “My goal is to go out there and get ahead of hitters, strike one, whatever it may be,” Wheeler said. The right-hander added Callaway told him a few days ago not to worry about his role on the pitching staff: “He said to try to go out and win a job. That’s my goal.” … Callaway had a lengthy discussion with plate umpire and fellow Memphis native Andy Fletcher early in the game. “He used to umpire my little league games when I was 10. I’ve known him for years and years and wanted to say hi.”
Chicago White Sox acquire 2B Cesar Hernandez from Cleveland Indians
The White Sox have been in the market for a second baseman, and they get one in Hernandez, 31, who is hitting .231/.307/.431 with 18 homers in his second year with the Indians, who trail the White Sox by 8½ games.
“César Hernández provides our club with a valuable combination of a power bat in the middle infield and Gold Glove quality defense,” said Rick Hahn, White Sox senior vice president/general manager. “Adding a player like César gives [manager] Tony [La Russa] a strong and proven option at second base for the stretch run of the season and hopefully into October.”
The White Sox lost Nick Madrigal for the season in June after he had surgery to repair tendon tears in his right hamstring.
The trading deadline is Friday, when Cleveland opens a three-game series in Chicago.
Hernandez hit a two-run homer in Cleveland’s 7-2 win over St. Louis on Wednesday.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report
Where all 30 teams stand as clock ticks on trade deadline
Will the additions be enough to turn bubble teams into contenders and contenders into favorites? Is your team good enough to go for it, or better off making deadline deals aimed at 2022 and beyond?
In other words: How does each team rank against the field as the hours tick away toward 4 p.m. ET Friday?
Here is what our eight-voter expert panel decided based on what they have learned in the first four months of the 2021 season. We also asked ESPN baseball experts David Schoenfield, Bradford Doolittle, Joon Lee, Jesse Rogers and Alden Gonzalez to weigh in with one Week 16 observation based on what they have seen recently for all 30 teams.
Previous ranking: 1
The Giants are expected to be aggressive before the trade deadline, looking for impact talent for their rotation, the back end of their bullpen and their lineup, with Max Scherzer, Craig Kimbrel and Kris Bryant all linked to them in recent days. But their greatest improvements might come from within. Over the next week or so, if everything goes according to plan, the Giants could get back all of the following players: first baseman Brandon Belt, shortstop Brandon Crawford, second baseman Tommy La Stella, third baseman Evan Longoria and starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez. Their depth is as good as anyone’s heading into the final stretch. — Gonzalez
Previous ranking: 3
The addition of relievers Kendall Graveman and Yimi Garcia should give manager Dusty Baker a whole new avenue for running his October bullpen. The beauty of it is that Graveman combines with Ryan Pressly to give Baker a pretty straight-forward veteran duo to nail down late leads. But by freeing righty Cristian Javier to be used more flexibly, Baker can really maximize his staff. Javier is a manager’s dream for an October scenario. He can start, though that would probably be needed only should someone get injured. He can piggyback a starter who has a short outing by going two or three innings to keep the Astros in a game. He can be spotted in a leverage situation. Graveman, the 2021 version of him, is a nice addition in a vacuum, as is Garcia. But the ripples those additions might make for Baker’s overall staff might be just as important. — Doolittle
Previous ranking: 2
The Dodgers are aggressive in their pursuit of starting pitching and will pounce on a high-leverage reliever if a deal makes sense, but what they also need to do is get Cody Bellinger going. Bellinger, who made the errant throw that allowed the winning run to score in Tuesday’s loss to the Giants, was batting only .163/.274/.281 through his first 179 plate appearances, with twice as many strikeouts as walks. With Mookie Betts and Corey Seager on the injured list, the Dodgers desperately need a productive Bellinger to hold off the Giants and Padres in the tightly contested National League West. — Gonzalez
Previous ranking: 5
Chris Sale continued his road back from Tommy John surgery, making his second rehab start for Double-A Portland on Sunday; he struck out nine batters in 3.2 innings and allowed two runs, a walk and six hits. Sale will make another start for Triple-A Worcester on Saturday and could completely change the dynamics of the American League pennant race if he looks like his old self after taking a year off to recover from injury. — Lee
Previous ranking: 6
The Rays continue to find the balance between being the short and long term by adding slugger Nelson Cruz and then trading Rich HIll to the Mets. The addition of Cruz will bolster the lineup with a consistent, strong power-hitting threat. According to Jeff Passan, the team also had preliminary discussions about both Max Scherzer and Kris Bryant, which gives a glimpse into the mindset of Tampa Bay’s front office — they’re going for gold. — Lee
Previous ranking: 4
While we wait to see how the White Sox bolster their roster for October, an interesting dilemma looms a few weeks into Chicago’s future: Who will be in its playoff rotation? It’s a question more about surplus than necessity. Chicago’s primary quintet of Lance Lynn, Dallas Keuchel, Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease and Carlos Rodon has been one of baseball’s most productive, durable and consistent units in baseball. Of those five, Keuchel has probably been the least good this season, but he’s the highest-paid member of the rotation and has the most postseason experience. Because of those factors, it seems like Cease needs to end the season with a flurry in order to stake a claim. — Doolittle
Previous ranking: 7
The Padres addressed their greatest midseason need early, swinging a deal to acquire Adam Frazier, the major league leader in hits, from the Pirates. Frazier will play second base and the corner-outfield spots, which allows him to easily fit into the same lineup as Jake Cronenworth and gives the Padres the flexibility to not rely too much on Wil Myers, Eric Hosmer and Jurickson Profar, all of whom have struggled to varying degrees. The question now is whether they’ll get into a bidding war with the Dodgers and Giants for a high-end starting pitcher, namely Max Scherzer. Also: Will they be forced to trade Hosmer in order to save money? — Gonzalez
Previous ranking: 8
The All-Star break didn’t slow Milwaukee down as its All-Star trio of starters did a number on the White Sox over the weekend. If not for a Lance Lynn two-run single off Brandon Woodruff, the Brewers might have swept the White Sox. In total, Freddy Peralta, Corbin Burnes and Woodruff pitched 17 innings, giving up just four runs to Chicago. Milwaukee added Eduardo Escobar tin a deal before Friday’s trade deadline, and is clearly the best in the division. The Brewers’ sights are on October. — Rogers
Previous ranking: 9
The gap between the Athletics and the Mariners continues to shrink, but the team added outfielder Starling Marte and lefty reliever Andrew Chafin. Marte was hitting .306 with seven homers for the Marlins and will be a big boost for the A’s lineup. The 31-year-old Chafin is having a strong season, allowing just nine runs with a 2.06 ERA and 0.839 WHIP in 43 appearances, and should bolster the bullpen. — Lee
Previous ranking: 11
Yes, the Mets need rotation help, even after acquiring Rich Hill. Taijuan Walker is suddenly a concern after lasting one out two starts ago and then allowing six runs and three home runs in his next outing. But … the Mets are last in the NL in doubles, 11th in home runs, next-to-last in runs and stolen bases, last in the majors in overall baserunning runs (14 below average). At least the offense has been better of late, averaging 4.87 runs per game in July as they’ve gotten a little healthier. Given the state of the team’s pitching, however, the offense might need to do even better. — Schoenfield
Previous ranking: 10
Toronto possesses the second-best run differential in the division behind the Rays, ahead of both the Red Sox and the Yankees. In order to compete with the rest of the division, the Jays will likely need to add another strong starter to their rotation. Toronto could make a run at the playoffs this year, but this will surely be a team that can contend into the future with a strong, young core. — Lee
Previous ranking: 12
The Yankees dropped three of four against the Red Sox over the weekend, with the highlight loss coming after blowing a 4-0 lead in a game in which Domingo German didn’t give up a hit in the first seven innings. Still, GM Brian Cashman clearly believes the team can make a charge at the wild card or even the division, pulling off a blockbuster deal for Joey Gallo on Wednesday night. — Lee
Previous ranking: 14
Hot off the Mariners’ biggest win of the season Monday, rallying from a 7-0 deficit to beat the Astros, the Kendall Graveman trade — to the Astros, no less — did not go over well in the Seattle clubhouse. Jerry Dipoto then followed that up by acquiring a much-needed starter in Tyler Anderson, from the Pirates. The Mariners are not going to trade away any of their major prospects, but let’s see if Trader Jerry has more deals in the works to help the club in 2021 as it pursues a wild card. — Schoenfield
Previous ranking: 16
Cincinnati would be foolish to add to its team this week unless it can switch out bullpens with another club. The Reds just can’t get over the hump due to MLB’s worst set of relievers. A 5.68 ERA over the past week is further proof nothing has changed post All-Star break. The injury to Nick Castellanos isn’t helping matters. Outslugging their bad bullpen is that much harder without him. — Rogers
Previous ranking: 13
How desperate are the Phillies to add rotation help? Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin have started 58 of the team’s 100 games (heading into Wednesday) and combined for a 3.56 ERA. The other starters have combined for a 5.98 ERA. Here’s the odd thing, however: The Phillies are 29-29 in games that Wheeler, Nola and Eflin started and 21-21 in games the other pitchers start. — Schoenfield
Previous ranking: 15
Austin Riley quietly continues to have an outstanding season, ranking 23rd in the majors in OPS. He’s hitting .316/.411/.646 in July with season-best monthly rates in walk rate (13.7%) and strikeout rate (17.9%). If he keeps that strikeout rate around 20% like he has the past month, he’s going to keep these numbers going. The defense metrics are also positive (plus-5 defensive runs saved at third base). He’s looking like a future All-Star. — Schoenfield
Previous ranking: 17
The soon-to-be-Guardians maintain a daily sparring against the .500 barrier and a membership in the group of six AL teams that have at least some shot at landing a wild-card spot as a road team. Alas, the emphasis is on “some” shot, as Cleveland owns by far the lowest probability among those teams. Thus, the approach at the deadline and for the rest of the season figures to be about positioning for the future. That puts the focus on shortstop Amed Rosario, who in his first year in Cleveland has roughly approximated the offensive production of traded star Francisco Lindor. Lindor, though, has put up career-worst numbers — and yet still has a better OPS than Rosario. Also, Rosario has again put up shaky defensive metrics. The good news for Cleveland is that it has a number of options for replacing Lindor in the long term already in house if Rosario doesn’t stake claim to the position. — Doolittle
Previous ranking: 18
The recoveries for both Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon have slowed in recent days, and the Angels don’t necessarily have the time to wait for them. The trade deadline is a day away, the gap between them and the top teams in their division has only widened, and general manager Perry Minasian might have no choice but to part with productive pending free agents to acquire more long-term players in return. At the top of that list is dynamic closer Raisel Iglesias. And the Angels don’t have the bullpen depth to overcome that loss if they trade him away. — Gonzalez
Previous ranking: 20
St. Louis might regret not retooling this month, but perhaps the Cardinals really can go on a run when Jack Flaherty returns. Like the Reds, the Cardinals can’t get past a bad bullpen. A recent ninth-inning collapse — the Cubs scored six runs on them — was the latest sign this just might not be their year. There are those 13 games left against the Brewers, but St. Louis might need to win 10 of them to be considered a contender in the division. — Rogers
Previous ranking: 21
The Cubs will get a long look at some young players in the second half including in starts from pitchers Keegan Thompson and Justin Steele. Outfielder Greg Deichmann — just acquired from Oakland in the Andrew Chafin deal — could make his debut this September, while the team will quietly talk with its remaining free agents — whomever they might be — in hopes of locking them up. First up is the trade deadline and some veterans moving on. — Rogers
Previous ranking: 22
There has been a lot of good stuff in AJ Hinch’s debut season as Detroit’s manager. A surprise midseason run at the .500 mark. The ascension and continued improvement of the Tigers’ top young starting pitchers. And then there’s the offseason find of Rule 5 outfielder Akil Baddoo. Baddoo garnered a lot of attention over the first couple of weeks of the season by following a strong spring with an electric start. He inevitably tailed off and settled into the day-to-day of a long campaign. While we haven’t heard as much about Baddoo since April, he has arguably been Detroit’s top hitter this season, sporting a team-best 134 OPS+ at the age of 22. Baddoo has his rough spots, to be sure, such as virtually no production against lefties. Nevertheless, his has been one of the season’s more underrated good stories. — Doolittle
Previous ranking: 19
A 6-16 record in July through Tuesday and the news of Stephen Strasburg‘s season-ending neck surgery and Trea Turner‘s positive COVID-19 test have pretty much sealed the fate on the end of Max Scherzer‘s career with the Nationals, especially because he’s now willing to approve a deal if he gets traded to the right team (apparently, one of the West Coast teams). There are even rumors the Nationals would consider trading Turner, a free agent after 2022. Keep in mind they still owe a ton of deferred money to Scherzer, plus $35 million a year to Strasburg through 2026 and $82 million to Corbin through 2024. The future might be bleak in D.C. — Schoenfield
Previous ranking: 23
The Marlins traded Starling Marte to the A’s for Jesus Luzardo, who struggled mightily for Oakland this year (6.87 ERA, 11 home runs in 38 IP), but is a former top prospect, is still just 23 years old and has just 15 career starts in the majors. Given how reluctant teams are to part with top prospects or young players for rentals such as Marte, this is an outstanding roll of the dice by Kim Ng for a pitcher who still has plenty of upside. — Schoenfield
Previous ranking: 26
Royals GM Dayton Moore told reporters this week that Kansas City’s approach around the trade deadline will be about setting up the roster for next season. If the Royals were to trade a veteran, such as Danny Duffy, Jorge Soler or Whit Merrifield, the ask would be for near-ready prospects as opposed to younger ones. One increasing factor in that is the persistent rise of elite shortstop prospect Bobby Witt Jr. Witt entered the season with just 37 games of rookie ball on his professional dossier. This season, he has already conquered Double-A and appears to be on his way to breezing through Triple-A as well. Not only does an appearance with the big league club in September seem likely, but you have to figure as Moore shapes a 2022 roster he hopes will return Kansas City to contention, he’ll do so with Witt penciled in as an infield regular. — Doolittle
Previous ranking: 24
Disappointed baseball fans in the Twin Cities saw at least a couple of rays of sunshine this week. First, owner Jim Pohlad told The Athletic that the Twins were “absolutely not” considering a full rebuild. And while a decision this week to trade young veterans Jose Berrios and/or Byron Buxton might undercut that message, it’s nevertheless refreshing for a franchise once put on the contraction block to have an owner emphasizing the need to win. As for Buxton, while he has yet to come to an agreement on an extension, he at least made it clear to reporters that his preference is to remain in Minnesota. It has been a deflating season for the Twins, but there is no reason the franchise needs to go into a tailspin in response. — Doolittle
Previous ranking: 25
It seems unfathomable, but there has been chatter in recent days that the Rockies ultimately might not trade Trevor Story, even though he is a pending free agent who doesn’t seem to have any plans of returning to Colorado in the offseason. The only reason for keeping Story would stem from the Rockies’ belief that the compensation pick they would attain for extending him a qualifying offer might be more valuable than the return on a trade. Story was batting only .240/.311/.422 through his first 87 games and is under control for only the next two-plus months, but conventional wisdom still states that he will be traded somewhere. — Gonzalez
Previous ranking: 28
First it was Adam Frazier on the move. Then Tyler Anderson. Could Richard Rodriguez be far behind? Pittsburgh is retooling under GM Ben Cherington, but the question with the Pirates is will they ever spend again? It’s a yearly topic for the Bucs, who seem miles behind the other four teams in their division. — Rogers
Previous ranking: 27
There’s not much to say about the Rangers that they haven’t said on the field since the All-Star break: They snapped a 12-game losing streak on Tuesday, just reinforcing the fact that the roster will look very different come Friday night. Joey Gallo is expected to be dealt to the Yankees as the two sides were reportedly finalizing an agreement Wednesday, and Kyle Gibson will likely be gone, too. Texas is in the hunt for the first pick in next summer’s draft, placing an exclamation point on a horrendous season. — Rogers
Previous ranking: 29
After a strong start to the season before hitting the injured list, John Means has struggled since returning to the Baltimore rotation, allowing five runs in five innings against Tampa Bay on July 20 and giving up four runs in 6.2 innings against the Washington Nationals on Sunday. Meanwhile, Matt Harvey has pitched extremely well during his past two starts, going six innings and allowing no runs against both the Nationals and the Royals. — Lee
Previous ranking: 30
Caleb Smith, under control through the 2023 season, looked like an attractive trade candidate heading into the deadline. But the 30-year-old left-hander has struggled in July, allowing 21 runs and eight homers in 19 2/3 innings. Still, the D-backs have a plethora of trade options at their disposal. The extent to which they deal will hinge on the front office’s calculations for how quickly the organization can become competitive again in such a difficult division. — Gonzalez
Milwaukee Brewers acquire Eduardo Escobar from Arizona Diamondbacks for two prospects
Escobar, 32, has 22 home runs for the last-place Diamondbacks. He can play any infield position, and is likely to see time at third and first base. The Brewers have Willy Adames and Kolten Wong playing shortstop and second base, respectively.
The switch-hitting Escobar has a career .778 OPS in 11 seasons, the past four with Arizona. It’s the third in-season trade to net the Brewers an infielder, as they previously acquired Adames from the Tampa Bay Rays and first baseman Rowdy Tellez from the Toronto Blue Jays.
Milwaukee is sending back prospects Cooper Hummel and Alberto Ciprian to complete the deal.
Hummel, 26, was an 18th-round pick for Milwaukee in 2016 and is currently at Triple-A, where he’s slashing .254/.435/.508. He has played first base, catcher and the outfield for Nashville.
Ciprian, 18, signed as an undrafted free agent with Milwaukee in 2019 and is playing in the Dominican Summer League, averaging .378 while adding eight RBIs in his first 12 professional games.
Escobar was highly sought-after, with the Chicago White Sox also interested in his services, but Milwaukee has just as big a need for him. The Brewers rank last in batting in the National League, hitting 21 points lower as a team than Escobar’s .246 batting average.
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