Whicker: The helium hasn’t run out on Will Smith’s high ride

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error The Dodgers got a compensatory first-round pick because they lost Greinke. That player turned out to be Smith, the 32nd player and third Cardinal in that draft.Who would you rather have now? Greinke has pitched admirably and is now with Houston, but he turns 36 in October.This is why you don’t trade players reflexively before their contracts expire. The Dodgers invested a lot in Greinke and used every drop, just as Cleveland is getting every kilowatt from shortstop Francisco Lindor.Now you hear desk-bound experts say the Indians should trade Lindor because his deal runs out in two years. Repeat, two years. Two years of All-Star play and leadership and maybe two playoff years as well.You heard the same unfathomable logic before the Angels gave Mike Trout his contract for life. When a star gets to the end and signs elsewhere, you also hear people say, “What a shame. They got nothing for him.” It was Dec. 4, 2015, and a short, chilly sunset. As darkness fell, the Arizona Diamondbacks triumphantly signed Zack Greinke to a six-year, $206 million contract and threw the Dodgers into reverse.Meanwhile, Will Smith was hitting caged baseballs and blocking bad pitches at the University of Louisville facility.He was a great-field, mediocre-hit catcher, heading into his junior draft year, hoping to pick up the slipstream from all the future pros in his clubhouse.It’s amazing how we long-jump to conclusions, and miss the pit.center_img That’s not true. When Mark Teixeira left the Angels, they got a draft pick that became Trout, plus they picked up budget room. Early returns indicate that Smith will be throwing out runners and getting conclusive hits long after Greinke has joined someone’s front office.Smith has 26 RBIs and nine home runs in his first 23 major-league games, both franchise records, and has been an errorless catcher in 19 starts. He was not drafted in high school, even though he had an 0.78 ERA pitching for Kentucky Country Day in Louisville, and hit 11 home runs his senior year. He was an infielder then, and the story is that KCD coach Joe Maione wanted to save Smith from the catching wear-and-tear until college.“I liked throwing guys out,” Smith said. “At Louisville they had a couple of veteran catchers, but I still played 10-15 games my freshman year because they were trying to get me ready. The biggest adjustment was learning to block balls, and we had a catching instructor, and we had a 20 minute period every day where we worked on stuff like that.”Marty Lamb, the Dodgers area scout, did not see Smith in high school but visited Louisville often to see the likes of Corey Ray, Zack Burdi, Brandon McKay and Kyle Funkhouser. He noticed  that a .242-hitting sophomore had become a .382-hitting junior. He saw Smith’s long home run against Wake Forest in the ACC tournament.“It’s the old scouting saying,” Lamb said. “If you see a guy do it once, you know it’s in there. He could always catch. I remember him picking a pitch off the ground and throwing out a guy at second, from his knees. A lot of scouts went in there to see other players, but Will was making himself noticed.”“I just had to break some bad habits,” Smith said. “I had to learn how to time the fastball better, not miss it when I got a chance. I’d had some highs and lows, and the lows were lasting too long. But I still felt like I was a good hitter, with a good feel for the strike zone.”Smith said he heard he might go in the “10th to the 20th round” when the year started, then the fifth to 10th, then second to third, and finally better than that. They call it “draft helium.” Sometimes it’s not to be trusted. Sometimes it finds a new horizon.The parents, Mark and Julie, are on the same high ride. They were at Dodger Stadium when Smith’s homer caused a win over Philadelphia.As Rick Bozich of WDRB.com told it, Julie spent part of her visit in an L.A. laundromat, washing Will’s clothes. The Smiths also recalled Will’s diligence, and the day when he caught 299 consecutive balls off a pitch-back device. But he dropped No. 300. Which meant he went back to No. 1.“He’s just a mature guy,” Lamb said. “He was up briefly in 2018, just so he could see what the major leagues were like, and after a while Justin Turner went up to (manager) Dave Roberts and said, ‘This guy gets it.’’’Another thing about jumpy conclusions: They’re not always wrong.RELATED:Will Smith leads Dodgers’ home run barrage in MiamiHow Dodgers catcher Will Smith emerged as two-way player after offseason workWhy Dodgers rookie Will Smith walked up to the ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ theme songlast_img read more

Michael Gallup injury update: Cowboys receiver (knee) ‘not ruled out’ vs. Packers

first_img“We got to see how he does out there (in practice this week),” Jones added.Gallup had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee last month and he was expected to miss two to four weeks. Jones’ comment comes after the receiver reached the two-week mark in his recovery this past Sunday.  Related News Matt Nagy dodges questions about Roquan Smith’s mysterious absence; status uncertain for Week 5 Tyler Boyd: Bengals ’embarrassed’ by Steelers in prime time Melvin Ingram injury update: Chargers defensive end (hamstring) could miss multiple weeks, report sayscenter_img There’s a chance receiver Michael Gallup could make his return Sunday against the Packers. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Tuesday on  105.3FM The Fan  that the team isn’t “ruling it out.”  Gallup was injured in the fourth quarter of the Cowboys’ 31-21 road victory over the Redskins in Week 2. Further testing revealed damage to the meniscus, though there was initial optimism that the knee was only bruised.Gallup, 23, got off to a strong start this season as he was a consistent target for quarterback Dak Prescott and an alternative to veteran star Amari Cooper. Gallup has 13 receptions (15 targets) for 226 yards through two games this season in his second year with Dallas.The Cowboys are 3-1 and have relied on depth in Gallup’s absence between Cooper, Randall Cobb and Devin Smith. Dallas had a 31-6 win over the Dolphins in Week 3, but fell 12-10 to the Saints on Sunday. The Cowboys are scheduled to host the Packers (3-1) at 4:25 p.m. ET Sunday.last_img read more