Joe Smith found out Thursday afternoon, March 30, he had made the New York Mets’ 25-man roster that will be making the trip to St. Louis, April 1, to begin the 2007 major league baseball season. The announcement was made by the Mets’ general manager Omar Minaya.
The official statement from the Mets’ front office was the club was seeking a different look in the bullpen. Relievers were sought who threw a variety of pitches from a variety of angles. Here, Smith fits in very well.
The 2002 Amelia High School graduate and son of Mike and Lee Smith of Pierce Township is extremely pleased and excited with the decision made just three days before the professional baseball club begins its almost seven-month long season. But he had hoped the decision would have been made much sooner to relieve all of his the anxiety and wandering.
The Mets became aware of Smith's outstanding work on the pitcher's mound due to his superb outings for the Wright State University Raiders. While pitching for the Green and Gold, Smith earned the title of the Horizon League Player of the Year and was selected as a NCAA All-Mideast Regional all-star.
The 6-feet, 2-inch, 205-pounder, also enjoyed a stellar sports career at Amelia High School where he earned Fort Ancient Valley Conference Buckeye Division all-star recognition in both baseball and basketball. The former Baron achieved all-city status in both sports, too.
The wait for the final decision of where he would begin the 2007 major league baseball season has been a long time period that has been very anxious and very nerve-wracking. But now he knows his position currently will be as a relief pitcher.
"I needed to find out soon. A lot of the guys had been dropping me hints. They even gave me a suitcase which every member of the team has one to take with them for road trips with the big club. They told me I would need it," said Smith. "I've hated the wait. It's been terrible.
"Spring has gone pretty well, though. I didn't have any horrendous outings. In 13 and a third innings I gave up runs in only two innings."
Smith has made most of his appearances this spring against the Baltimore Orioles. He pitched what he described as "good games" in three of the four outings he made against them, but the two innings in which he allowed runs was opposite the Orioles.
Smith's pitching release is brutal and terrifying. His submarine (partially under hand and side arm release) and straight side arm deliveries are very difficult to hit for most batters, especially right hander batters who must face the fast balls, change ups, and sliders that he fires with such great velocity coming at them on the same side of the plate at which the right hand batters always take their stance.
"I've just been following the directions of what the pitching coach and catchers have asked me to do," said the Clermont countian who is younger than all, but two of players on the season-opening New Yorker's roster. He became just 23 less than two weeks ago.
The Mets have had four catchers on the spring training roster and Smith has worked with each one of them - Paul Deluca, Ramon Castro, Mike DiFelice, and Sandy Alomar Jr. The first two also made the 25-man roster.
'I've gotten comfortable with each one of them," Smith said with pride and confidence.
Smith is among a pitching roster that includes several more right hand hurlers than southpaws. In addition to Smith, some of the more renowned mound men are veteran left handers Tom Glavine and Billy Wagner.
The Mets will play the Cincinnati Reds seven times during the regular season.
The first four games between the two will be played in New York City - Thursday July 12 (7:10 p.m. starting time), Friday July 13 (7:10 p.m.), Saturday July 14 (7:10 p.m.), and Sunday July 15 (1:10 p.m.).
The last three games will be played at the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati - Monday Sept. 3 (1:15 p.m.), Tuesday September 4 (7:10 p.m.), and Wednesday Sept. 5 (12:35 p.m.).