PHOENIX -- Rob Johnson was excited about being called up to catch Matt Harvey in his major-league debut Thursday night. Manager Terry Collins said "a lot of it had to do with Harvey" but added that the Mets were "grasping" for offense and couldn't afford to keep .168-hitting Mike Nickeas.
Johnson, who had a sacrifice fly in the Mets' 3-1 victory over the Diamondbacks, hit .313 in 32 at-bats with the Mets earlier this season. He has been mentoring Harvey at Triple-A Buffalo in a relationship reminiscent of that of fictional catcher Crash Davis and pitching phenom Nuke LaLoosh in the movie "Bull Durham."
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Of course, when LaLoosh got called up to the majors, Davis was released. Which is why Johnson was happy to say Thursday night, "I know I just turned 30 five days ago and am going gray, but I don't look at myself as Crash Davis."
Johnson should get a chance to stick around as long as Harvey does. The two developed a bond at Buffalo, which Harvey referenced earlier this week as important in his development.
"I'm awfully thankful that he said some good things," Johnson said. "But he's the one going out there and throwing the ball. He's the one who can throw 96 when he wants to and he's got a couple other pitches to go along with that."
Johnson said his role in Buffalo was "just really communicating and trying to let him know since I do have a little bit of experience up here what it's about, what he needs to do, those kinds of things. But at the end of the day, he's the one out there on the bump doing it."