When Trea Turner left the Los Angeles Dodgers in free agency, that opened a spot in the top three of the batting order, which has now been filled by Will Smith.
The backstop is now in his fifth season with the Dodgers, and they have put him in his most important role yet, hitting behind Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman. So far, he has rewarded the Dodgers for their faith in his ability by batting .421/.478/1.000 with three home runs through his first five games.
“To me, it’s just treat every at-bat the same,” Smith said about now batting third in the Dodgers lineup. “Just trying to keep my approach, swing at the right pitches. That’s what I can control. That’s how I go about it.”
Last season, Smith receive plenty of at-bats in the cleanup spot, and that experience helped prepare him and increase his comfort for batting at the top of the Dodgers order. “It’s huge,” Smith said.
“Last year, those guys were getting on base a ton, so I got a lot of RBI opportunities. I really learned how to perform in those situations, men on base and in scoring position. So yeah, I just continue to learn and continue to try to get better. Put the work in.”
Smith has homered in three consecutive games and carried the offense multiple times. That performance would label a hitter as on fire, but for Smith, he is just feeling “pretty good.”
“You know it always feels good when you’re swinging at the right pitches and you’re doing something with them,” Smith added. “You’re not missing them or fouling them off. Just trying to keep it going. Show up Thursday ready to go.”
Manager Dave Roberts recently indicated his expectation was to keep batting Smith third in the Dodgers lineup.
Will Smith took extra at-bats to prepare after World Baseball Classic
Smith represented Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, and because of that, he was not able to get as many at-bats as he normally would have in Spring Training.
The Dodgers made it a point to have him in the lineup more times than not upon returning from the WBC, but he additionally made up for missed time by taking extra at-bats on the backfields at Camelback Ranch.
“For me, I don’t need a ton of at-bats,” Smith said. “You see pitching and then it’s kind of you’re always adjusting and going that way.
“But I think the hitting coaches do a really good job helping me find my swing and then take it to really competitive games. And I felt pretty good, so it just adds confidence.”
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