CINCINNATI -- Newly acquired catcher Kelly Shoppach arrived to the Mets clubhouse Wednesday, received his No. 6 uniform and promptly got to the business of introducing himself to his teammates.
“Hey, I’m Kelly Shoppach. What’s your name?” said Shoppach about the quick learning he’s going to have to do. “Let’s start there.”
The Mets acquired Shoppach on Tuesday for a player to be named after putting a waiver claim in on him. Shoppach, 32, hit .250 with five home runs and 17 RBI for the Red Sox in 48 games this season. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is Boston’s ever-day catcher and is second on the team with 20 homers this season. Shoppach will move into a platoon system with Josh Thole, playing mostly against left-handed starting pitchers.
The Mets sent catcher Rob Johnson to Triple-A Buffalo to make room for Shoppach on the 25-man roster.
After introducing himself, he’s got to learn the pitching staff quickly. The Mets aren’t due to face a lefty starter until Friday when Ross Detwiler goes for Washington in the opener of a three-game series at Nationals Park but manager Terry Collins left open the door that Shoppach could be in the lineup on Thursday.
“I often say that pitchers are pitchers. They have stuff but learning their personalities is really the challenge,” said Shoppach. “I’m probably going to have to talk a bit more than I’d like to. I prefer to stay out of their way but it’s important for me to learn how they function. They’re all talented individuals out on that island all by themselves. It’s going to be a learning transition for me to help them battle that feeling on the mound and help them along the way through the game. Not just the starters but the relievers as well.”
One thing Shoppach probably won’t have to worry about for the immediate future is catching R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball. That job is going to remain Thole’s.
“Right now, probably Josh just because he’s been doing it, he’s comfortable with it and R.A. is on a bit of a role so we’ll leave it like that,” Collins said.
Shoppach hasn’t done much catching of the knuckleball. He got a 10-minute tutorial from Red Sox bullpen coach Gary Tuck before leaving Boston.
“I want to anticipate everything before it happens. I want to beat the ball to the spot,” said Shoppach. “With the knuckleball there’s nothing to beat it to. You just hope the ball hits the glove and you hang on to it.”