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New Met Travis d'Arnaud's role model is Mike Piazza

Toronto Blue Jays catcher Travis d'Arnaud, right, makes

Toronto Blue Jays catcher Travis d'Arnaud, right, makes a throw to first base during the first official workout at spring training baseball in Dunedin, Fla. (Feb. 22, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

Travis d'Arnaud once idolized the star of his hometown Dodgers, Mike Piazza.

"I wanted to play like him, catch like him and even hit like him," d'Arnaud said.

His opportunity will come in the same uniform once worn by his role model, a fact not lost upon d'Arnaud, who joined veteran catcher John Buck and pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard in an introductory conference call Tuesday. The trio, along with 18-year-old outfield prospect Wuilmer Becerra, joined the Mets in the seven-player swap that sent R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays with catchers Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas.

"I'm really honored to be a part of the New York Mets, where [Piazza] played as well," said d'Arnaud, considered by many to to be the top catching prospect in baseball. "I'm really looking forward to it."

The same goes for the Mets, though it's unclear whether d'Arnaud will begin the season in the big leagues. The 23-year-old lost valuable development time last year when a knee injury cut his season short at Triple-A Las Vegas.

"I feel 100 percent now as far as my knee injury," d'Arnaud said.

Buck, 32, gives the Mets an alternative. The veteran catcher said he's looking forward to helping along some of the team's talented young arms. Those ranks now include Syndergaard, the hard-throwing righty that the Mets insisted upon getting in the trade.

Syndergaard, 20, used the conference call to apologize for using a gay slur on his Twitter feed, in what he called "a poor attempt at humor."

Said Syndergaard: "I'm really so sorry that the first introduction to being a New York Met had to be like this."

Francisco has surgery

The Mets' search for a reliever may intensify after closer Frank Francisco underwent surgery Tuesday to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. The righty plans to resume throwing in six weeks and the club expects him to be ready for Opening Day. Elbow issues sidelined Francisco for the last few weeks of last season. Bobby Parnell would be first in line to close if Francisco isn't healthy for the start of next season.

Trade for OF help. The Mets acquired outfielder Collin Cowgill from the Athletics Tuesday in exchange for minor-league infielder Jefry Marte.

Cowgill, 26, gives the Mets the righthanded bat they wanted to balance out their lefty-heavy outfield. In 95 career plate appearances against lefties, he's hitting .298 with a .379 on-base percentage.

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