PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — No Opening Day would be no problem for Travis d’Arnaud, who expressed a team-first attitude when asked Saturday about the likely scenario of Rene Rivera catching Noah Syndergaard on April 3 at Citi Field.
The d’Arnaud-Syndergaard battery was a green light Friday for the Astros, who stole four bases without being caught once. Syndergaard’s not-so-quick delivery and d’Arnaud’s ball-transfer issues do not make a great combination when it comes to controlling a running game, which is concerning for the Mets. That could also open the door to Rivera being a personal catcher for Syndergaard, or at least on Opening Day.
“I’m going to feel exactly how I’ve felt and I will always feel,” d’Arnaud said Saturday. “Whatever the team thinks is going to get us to the World Series, I’m in.”
After Friday’s rough performance, the Mets’ presumptive No. 1 catcher was back at work the next morning — and considerably more effective against the organization’s minor-leaguers. While the game primarily was arranged at First Data Field to shield Jacob deGrom from the Braves for his 77-pitch tuneup, it came with an added bonus: a steady flow of base-stealers for d’Arnaud to target. On this day, d’Arnaud went 4-for-6 throwing out runners, a comforting ratio.
“I made a clean transfer, and just made good, clean throws,” d’Arnaud said. “Kind of like what I’ve been working on all spring. The only difference is, this time versus the last time, is the result. I’m just trying to trust the process and just stick with that.”
Said Terry Collins: “Anything that builds confidence matters. If that helps, then it matters.”
The Mets tried to address d’Arnaud’s throwing issues this winter by hiring Glenn Sherlock, formerly of the Diamondbacks, to be his catching instructor, a role that had not been filled since Bob Geren left for the Dodgers. The two worked together a few times during the offseason, and Sherlock has made d’Arnaud a special project in camp. After Friday’s trouble, d’Arnaud said he watched video of his performance, which included him side by side in the frame with Rivera.
“We noticed with me that I was kind of standing a little too tall versus Rene was really low to the ground and stayed back a lot better than I was,” d’Arnaud said. “So I was able to do that in early work today to kind of feel staying back, and staying low. To use more legs when I throw versus putting more strain on my arm. Using my legs more to help my arm get it to second base easier.”
It was a somewhat strange Saturday to see almost every runner try to steal against d’Arnaud, so he did have the advantage of knowing they’d attempt to go at some point. But every little bit of practice helps, and d’Arnaud must have benefited.
“Now it’s starting to quicken up,” d’Arnaud said. “The last month or so, we were just trying to take our time, and make a good, clean throw. Now that we have that down, we’re just trying to speed things up.”