It was June 7 and all seemed lost for catcher Travis d’Arnaud. He was hitting below .200, and his slash line for his previous 10 games was an abysmal .118/.250/.306. The front office and Terry Collins finally had enough — he was being demoted.
After watching him struggle for most of the early part of his Major League career, the move felt right. He needed to gain confidence and get into more of a routine.
He was sent to Triple-A Las Vegas to play with the 51s and manager Wally Backman. Fans in New York were quick to call d’Arnaud a “bust.” He didn’t even have 130 at-bats in 2014, but d’Arnaud was thought to be done with the Mets. He was no use for this team anymore.
Now after his second home run in 10 games, fans are singing a bit of a different tune.
The young catcher came back up to the big leagues on June 24 against the Oakland Atheltics. In that game where the Mets pounded former pitching prospect Scott Kazmir, d’Arnaud belted a deep home run to left field. His good hitting did not stop there, however.
In the 10 games since his recall, d’Arnaud has reached base at least once in all but one game. He has compiled a .297 average over that span, and has had his share of key hits. His two-run double on Friday was the game-winning hit over the Texas Rangers and his homer last night brought the Mets closer to a come back, though they would go on to lose.
It took awhile, but d’Arnaud is finally showing the ability that scouts had seen for years. Sometimes for a rookie catcher, it takes some time to get adjusted to calling a game and have to handle the bat. Just ask St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.
During Molina’s first two seasons with the Cardinals, his offense took a back seat. He hit just .216 in 2006 . It took him until 2008 to have his first year with a .300-plus batting average, his fourth Major League season. If Molina was in New York, he probably would have been run out of town pretty quickly.
Calling a game is obviously not an easy thing to do, and adding on offensive duties makes life even more difficult for a rookie catcher. But, d’Arnaud not only has that to worry about, he also has the added pressure of being a top prospect that was traded for a Cy Young Award winner — twice. That has to weigh on him when he suits up for each game.
The point is, d’Arnaud is a rookie and is going to have his rough patches and successes. The key to him is patience. Yes, Kevin Plawecki is right on his heels in the Minor Leagues, but give d’Arnaud at least a full season with the Mets. It’s not like turnarounds are unprecedented.