LOS ANGELES — Will Smith was activated off the concussion injured list before Friday night’s game against the Cardinals, after the Dodgers catcher missed 13 games.
Smith will start at designated hitter on Friday night, batting third, after taking live at-bats in a simulated game at Dodger Stadium. It was the second time Smith batted against live pitching this week, also doing so in Pittsburgh.
“It went well,” manager Dave Roberts said of Smith’s live at-bats. “He’s excited to get back in there.”
It’s been a slow progression for Smith, during the series in Pittsburgh caught relievers in the bullpen as one of the final items left on his return checklist. Smith also participated in workouts at PNC Park, and told Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register on Wednesday that he’s been without concussion symptoms since late last week when the Dodgers were at Wrigley Field.
Smith foreshadowed the cautiousness back on April 17, before his fourth missed game.
“My number one priority is getting back to 100 percent. I don’t want to rush this. There’s plenty of things you can play through and deal with, but head stuff, concussion stuff is not something anyone should mess with,” Smith said then. “It’s going to be a progression. We’ll see how I recover after today. ... It’s day by day.”
During Smith’s absence, Austin Barnes started nine games at catcher, and Austin Wynns started four games after getting signed as a free agent on April 16. The duo combined to hit .132/.209/.158 with five hits in 38 at-bats.
Smith this season is hitting .333/.417/.641 with three home runs, 12 RBI, and a 179 wRC+. He’s back in a lineup in which he batted third in all 10 of his starts.
The corresponding move to activate Smith was J.D. Martinez landing on the injured list with lower back tightness. That means, for a few days anyway, the Dodgers will carry three catchers on the active roster, including Wynns.
Roberts said Smith could be the designated hitter again on Saturday, and catch on Sunday.
Shortstop Miguel Rojas also took part in that simulated game Friday at Dodger Stadium, and is expected to start a minor league rehab assignment on Saturday.
“If all goes well, we’ll get him back in here Monday or Tuesday,” Roberts said, “hopefully Monday.”