SAN DIEGO -- Highly regarded catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud will join the Mets Saturday for his much-anticipated big-league debut. And it's possible, according to general manager Sandy Alderson, that the 24-year-old could be with the Mets to stay.
Initially, d'Arnaud had been expected to make only a three-day cameo, the length of starting catcher John Buck's paternity leave. But d'Arnaud is expected to start each of his three games with the Mets -- in essence a tryout to prove that he's ready to stick.
"Most scouting decisions are made on three-day samples, so it's not unusual," Alderson said with a laugh. "We probably didn't have a three-day sample on him when we traded for him. So we'll see what happens."
The Mets traded Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays for a package headlined by d'Arnaud, who immediately was tabbed as the franchise's catcher of the future. He wasn't expected to remain in the minors for long this season, but a foot fracture in mid-April sent him to the disabled list until last month.
"It will be nice to see him in a New York Mets uniform," Alderson said. "There's been a lot of anticipation and some disappointment given the injury he sustained early in the year -- more disappointment on his part than anyone else's."
Even if d'Arnaud is sent back to the minors after his three days, his absence wouldn't last more than 12 days. Rosters expand Sept. 1 and d'Arnaud would be one of the Mets' call-ups.
D'Arnaud went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a walk Thursday night for Triple-A Las Vegas. In 19 games with the 51s, he was hitting .304 (17-for-56) with eight doubles, two homers and 12 RBIs. He has been playing in minor-league rehab games since July 24 and with the 51s since Aug. 9.
"It heightens the probability that he'll stay here now that he's already had a week or so at Las Vegas," Alderson said. "I think from his standpoint, it's been positive. He's done very well there. His approach offensively has been terrific and he's throwing the ball well. Let's see what he offers."
The 51s were set to begin a series in Salt Lake City when d'Arnaud got the call to join the Mets. When Buck's wife went into labor Friday, setting into motion d'Arnaud's long-awaited promotion, the earliest flight he could get into San Diego was scheduled to arrive at about midnight.
Because d'Arnaud was unlikely to play against the Padres on Friday night, the Mets simply played short. Though Buck left the team a few hours before the game, his leave technically does not begin until Saturday.
"This way, we get through the road trip in all probability and John wouldn't have to rejoin us in Minnesota for just the one game," Alderson said. "So it makes the most sense."
D'Arnaud's pending promotion ends two weeks of speculation regarding when he finally would arrive. Buck had expected his third child earlier in the month.
Backup catcher Anthony Recker, who took Buck's place and hit seventh, went 3-for-3 with a double, a walk and a run scored in the Mets' 5-2 victory. It was the first three-hit game of his 65-game major-league career.
Outfielder Andrew Brown served as the emergency catcher. He has only limited experience at the position, working out behind the plate as a minor-leaguer in 2008, and has never appeared in a pro game as a catcher. Brown spent the past week catching bullpen sessions to stay sharp in case he was pressed into service.
Said Brown: "I came prepared."