The Los Angeles Dodgers officially recalled Will Smith and optioned Austin Barnes to Triple-A Oklahoma City ahead of Friday’s series opener against the Washington Nationals. Indication a change was on the horizon surfaced the day prior when Barnes’ option appeared on the MLB transactions page.
Smith returns after multiple weeks of he and Barnes trending in vastly different directions. Barnes went 0-for-3 with a walk, strikeout and throwing error in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
The Dodgers were swept in the season Freeway Series for the first time in franchise history. They previously were the holders of the only such sweep, taking all four games from the Angels in 1997.
“That’s one of those things for me, Fletcher had a really good jump. That’s one of those plays, a good base stealer, you’ve got to eat it,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Barnes’ throwing error.
“He made the decision to throw it down and we couldn’t corral it. It ended up being a deciding run.”
Barnes had an encouraging month at the plate in May but regressed in June and July. On the season he’s batting .196/.288/.328 with 10 doubles, one triple, five home runs and 23 RBI in 70 games.
Smith struggled some with Oklahoma City after returning earlier this month from a minor oblique injury. He then had good fortune on his side after signs were crossed and being hit by a pitch in the right hand/palm area.
The 24-year-old was out of the lineup the next game but only dealt with swelling.
He’s been nothing short of impressive while with the Dodgers, going 7-for-26 with one double, three home runs and six RBI in nine games.
Smith made his MLB debut as a result of Barnes being forced to the 10-day injured list because of a strained groin. He memorably collected a hit in his first at-bat and also had a double, albeit in a loss to the New York Mets.
Smith’s first career home run was a walk-off, and on the same day he was recalled for a second stint with the Dodgers, hit another game-winning homer. That extended the Dodgers’ MLB record to three consecutive games with a rookie hitting a walk-off home run.
His opposite-field blast additionally gave the Dodgers four walk-off home runs hit by a rookie this year, setting an MLB record for most by players of that experience in a single season, per the Elias Sports Bureau.