Will Smith Hopeful Latest Stint With Dodgers Is Long-Term

After weeks of insufficient production from the catcher position, the Los Angeles Dodgers made a change heading into their weekend series with the Washington Nationals by optioning Austin Barnes and recalling Will Smith from Triple-A Oklahoma City.

While Smith was not in the lineup for the series opener at Nationals Park, he started Saturday and is expected to again be behind the plate for the three-game finale. Similar to when he was previously recalled, Smith made an immediate impact.

He went 3-for-3 with two doubles, one home run and six RBI to lead the Dodgers in a 9-3 win over the Nationals. Manager Dave Roberts has already identified Smith as the club’s primary catcher.

What has not been explicitly stated is how long the rookie might remain with the club. Of course, Smith is hoping it will be for an extended period of time, as seen on SportsNet LA:

“I hope so. … It’s reassuring to me to know they have that confidence in me to go back there most nights and keep doing what I do.”

Through 10 games (eight starts) with the Dodgers, Smith is batting .345/.394/.862 with three doubles, four home runs and 12 RBI. His performance against the Nationals put the 24-year-old into the record books.

Smith broke Mike Piazza’s L.A. rookie record with six RBI, and joined Bernie Hungling (April 26, 1922) and Al Lopez (Aug. 13, 1930) as the only Dodgers rookie catchers with at least that many RBI in a single game. Piazza twice had five RBI during the 1993 season.

Smith additionally became the first Dodgers rookie with at least six RBI in a single game since James Loney had nine on Sept. 28, 2006.

Meanwhile, Barnes’ batting average dipped below .200 at the time he was optioned, and Martin has just five extra-base hits and nine RBI in 173 plate appearances over 55 games. Both players have spent time on the 10-day injured list this season.

Considering Barnes’ prolonged struggles, it stands to reason Smith figures to remain with the Dodgers for the rest of the year. However, in the event he returns to Oklahoma City, Smith has already demonstrated a mature viewpoint.

“I knew I was going to be sent back down at some point, so I wasn’t going to let that bug me at all,” Smith said last month after hitting a walk-off home run in his first game back from Oklahoma City. I didn’t, and I played well.”