d' Day: Mets unveil d'Arnaud against Padres
Baseball's highest rated catching prospect makes big league debut
SAN DIEGO -- Four minutes into his first big league interview, Travis d'Arnaud paused at the end of one of his answers, glanced around and shook his head.
"What an amazing feeling," d'Arnaud said. "I don't really know much to say anymore, guys."
The Mets do not need him to say anything -- only to play. With regular catcher John Buck in New York for the birth of his son, Bentley Ryan Buck, d'Arnaud arrived in San Diego on Saturday to make his long-awaited big league debut. The Mets' top offensive prospect and one of their brightest hopes for the future, d'Arnaud slipped on his No. 15 jersey and batted sixth at Petco Park, finishing 0-for-2 with two walks in an 8-2 defeat to the Padres.
"It was indescribable, man," d'Arnaud said. "It was one of those feelings everyone dreams they have. I can't even describe it, but unfortunately we got the loss."
Before the game, manager Terry Collins called it "the perfect opportunity" for d'Arnaud, considering how well the catcher had been hitting at Triple-A Las Vegas. In seven games there since returning from a fractured bone in his left foot, d'Arnaud batted .400 with one home run, three doubles and nine walks.
The Mets plan to start him in each of the final three games of their West Coast road trip, before determining whether he will stick with the big club or head back to Triple-A for more seasoning. Buck will return from paternity leave on Tuesday.
"We're certainly hoping he stays," Collins said. "Now is that a plan going in? No. But you've just got to hope that he's ready to show us he belongs here. I think the next three days we'll get a feel for where he's at, what we need to do and where we are with his development. Are we going to hinder it in any way? Because if we are, this is not the right time."
Mostly, Collins said, the Mets will evaluate d'Arnaud's bat speed, his mechanics behind the plate, and more generally "how he reacts to things." D'Arnaud, for his part, began the acclimation process immediately, chatting with each member of the pitching staff upon his arrival. Noting afterward that "you could see he was a little nervous" in his debut, Collins nonetheless lauded d'Arnaud's composure on his first day.
"At the plate he looked all right," Collins said. "I thought he did fine."
Because he was not able to make it to San Diego in time for Friday night's game, d'Arnaud had more idle hours to go about acclimating himself prior to his debut. His family also had more time to commute down from the Los Angeles area for the event.
And the Mets had more time to ponder the rapidly changing makeup of their club. This season alone, prospects d'Arnaud, Zack Wheeler, Jenrry Mejia, Juan Lagares, Wilmer Flores and Gonzalez Germen have joined the Mets, infusing the team with youth. Collins called it "fun to watch," noting that young talent "instills some energy in your team."
It is a plan that general manager Sandy Alderson and the Mets have had in place for years -- though lately, no one has become more central to it than d'Arnaud.
"I know that Sandy's done a great job getting a whole bunch of players up here and I'm excited," d'Arnaud said. "That's for sure."