Dom Smith on his two-RBI night against the Braves
Matt Ehalt, Staff Writer, @MattEhalt
NEW YORK — With his ability to get on base at an elite level, Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo is a natural in the leadoff spot.
Yet, Wednesday night against Atlanta, the Mets batted him ninth for the first time in his career. With a lefty on the mound for the Braves, manager Mickey Callaway opted to go for the two leadoff hitters approach by moving Nimmo down a few spots.
Nimmo went 0-for-1 while walking twice in the 3-0 win.
Callaway noted that the Mets have been using lineups they would not be employing if they were still in the playoff hunt. Shortstop Amed Rosario has been hitting leadoff to help his development, but it might not be his spot in the future.
Nimmo figures to be one of the top candidates to serve as the leadoff hitter in 2019 although his increase in power makes him a viable option for the middle of the order. It’s possible Rosario could be used in the ninth spot again next year.
“At this point in the season, what we tried to do is not necessarily have a traditional lineup that would maybe get the most runs possible — we’ve been playing well, our guys have been performing well where they’re at,” Callaway said before the middle game of the series. “But it’s been more of a development tool for our guys than anything.”
The Mets honored Ozzie Virgil Sr., the first Dominican-born player in the majors, by having him serve as the team’s honorary coach and bringing out the lineup card.
Virgil, 86, has coached in the Mets system for the last 11 years, and overseen the catchers for the Dominican Summer League teams.
He debuted with the New York Giants on Sept. 23, 1956.
“The best sound I have that keeps me alive is the bat hitting the ball, ” Virgil said.
Jason Vargas (6-9, 6.25 ERA) makes his final start in Thursday’s series finale. Vargas has pitched better after a slow start. … Dom Smith started at first base Wednesday, and went 2-for-3 with two RBIs. …Michael Conforto set a career high with his 28th homer.