Orioles outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. no longer has MLB The Show to distract him from baseball’s lengthy shutdown and uncertain future. He had a blast guiding his video team to a fifth-place finish and a playoff berth as the organization’s representative and earning top honors as manager with the current roster. Now he’s back to full-on pandemic life like everyone else.
Smith isn’t ready to offer advice to Orioles manager Brandon Hyde or think about the next phase of his professional life. He’d just like to get back to playing real baseball.
“I kind of treat it the same,” Smith said earlier today during a video conference call with the local media. “I get ready as I normally would. We don’t have a date where we know when we’re going to get down to Florida to start spring training and all of that, but as long as you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.
“I feel like as long as I just keep my mentality right, stay positive, I’ll be right back on track where I need to be.”
Until that day when the sports world opens up again, Smith will remain at his Georgia home and try to find the positive elements of his confinement.
“I really just hang around my family,” said Smith, who batted .241/.297/.412 last season in 101 games. “We’ve been doing a lot of stuff together, like watching movies, playing board games, doing all those types of family things. And I’ll go outside.
“Really, my workouts get me through the day, so by the time I’m done working out, I just want to sit down, relax, read a book, maybe sleep or something like that. There’s really not much I’m doing besides that. I’ll do a couple podcasts here and there. I do some DJing with some music and stuff like that. Anything that can help pass the time I’m pretty much doing.”
Being so receptive to change made it easier for Smith’s sister to get him started on TikTok and its short-form mobile videos. Participants can create dance, lip-sync, comedy and other talent routines.
“That’s a new one,” Smith said, laughing.
“DJing, I’ve done that in the past. I actually had a laptop that I would make mixes on, but I got a virus on it and I kind of stopped. Now that I’ve got more time to sit down and relax, I might pick it back up and go back to where I left off.”
Smith would like to do the same on Mother’s Day, when he homered last season, looked into the camera and said, “Hi, Mom.” But no games will be played on Sunday.
The alternative this weekend, and it’s a nice one, is spending the afternoon with her.
“I think I’m going to enjoy this Mother’s Day a lot because I haven’t been around my mom on Mother’s Day in, like, probably seven years or so, since I’ve been playing pro ball almost,” he said. “So I’m going to cherish this moment for sure because there aren’t too many Mother’s Days I can be around my mom. I’m normally playing on that day and getting on a flight after that game and going to another city, so I’m going to cherish this one for sure.”
They bonded over baseball earlier in the week, watching from their respective homes as the Korea Baseball Organization finally began its season and ESPN2 aired one of the games at 1 a.m.
“I stayed up for about four or five innings and I passed out,” he said. “It was kind of cool seeing them play. I played against a couple guys over there. Seeing a couple guys over there doing their thing is always awesome.
“I was already up and then my mom texted me. I thought she was asleep and she texted me, ‘Are you going to watch the KBO game?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll watch a couple innings.’ “
Smith collected a few game-winning hits in the video game, admiring his leg kick in the process. The shutdown hasn’t hurt his swing. And he recited some of the other top performances, a first-time manager beaming over his club.
“Hopefully we’ll do that during the season, too. That will translate,” he said.
Only after it’s risk-free to play baseball again. To whittle the social distancing and remove the health concerns that have pushed everyone indoors.
“There’s definitely concerns about that because we want to make sure it’s 100 percent safe,” he said. “When they give us the go, if they do, to restart back up again, we don’t want to contract that virus and then pass it around to others amongst ourselves and get other people sick and just continue the pandemic. We want to stop that as much as we can.
“Whenever they give us the go, when it’s a really safe time to go back, I think will be the best opportunity.”