JUPITER, Fla. – Not only is Dominic Smith resting soundly through the night after shrinking the severity of his sleep apnea — a menacing disorder that disrupts a person’s breathing pattern — but he’s seeing the ball better too.
The 23-year-old recently began wearing a sleep apnea mask, which hooks up to one’s nose, to help alleviate the barrier of muddy-minded mornings. With that curtain of fog lifted following a night of sleep, Smith can suddenly see pitches in real-time as opposed to a fastball whizzing past him into the catcher’s glove.
Smith’s burst of energy is paying off so far in Mets camp. He leads the Mets in hits with 10. He’s slashing .500/.565/.700 with a home run, six RBIs, three walks, a double and a run scored over eight Grapefruit League games.
“This is a special thing that we’re getting to see right now. We haven’t seen this from him,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “So he does look like he’s in a better spot than he has been.”
With the sharper vision, Smith is actually seeing pitches differently than his peers.
“What I would perceive as a 103 mph fastball would actually be 95 (mph),” Smith said.
The first baseman said after his teammates came off the plate, and told him a pitcher he faced just moments before was throwing heat, Smith had to take a step back and reflect.
“That wasn’t even that fast,” Smith said.
This new perception of velocity is a major advantage for Smith. Prior to the benefits of the mask, Smith endured challenging at-bats. He was trying to hit what were, from his viewpoint, 103 mph fastballs. Smith said he is making better contact this spring by having it all slowed down for him.
Now that his sleep apnea mask gives him a full night of rest, Smith wakes up in the morning with a clear head and less fogginess.
“I have more energy now,” Smith said. “I come to the park feeling good.”
VARGAS HOLDS FISH AT BAY
Jason Vargas allowed four hits with one walk and two strikeouts over 2.1 scoreless innings in his second start of spring during the Mets 3-1 loss against the Marlins on Tuesday.
“I felt good. Body felt really good,” Vargas said. “Didn’t get as many outs and pitch count got up more than last time. The plan was to get out there three times. We definitely did that.”
DAVIS RIGHT BEHIND SMITH
The Mets broke a scoreless game in the sixth inning thanks to an RBI single from J.D. Davis. The Mets infielder has eight hits in spring training, second only to Smith.
Davis has experience playing first base, second base and left field in his major league career. Davis’ versatility may allow him to solidify a spot on the Opening Day roster.