TC: Catchers need to pick up production

May, 29, 2014
May 29
5:10
PM ET
PHILADELPHIA -- Travis d'Arnaud is back in the lineup for the first time in 16 days on Thursday night, and Terry Collins noted it's not just him who needs to pick up his production.

"We've got to start getting some offense out of our catching position, for sure," Collins said.

Overall, Mets catchers rank 27th in the majors in average (.217), 24th in on-base percentage (.282) and 26th in slugging percentage (.339). They have driven in 16 runs, better than only the Phillies (14), Royals (13) and Dodgers (11).

D'Arnaud was hitting .196 with three homers and eight RBIs in 102 at-bats before landing on the concussion DL two weeks ago.

D'Arnaud indicated the most difficult thing during his week of concussion symptoms was dealing with noise. He was on the bench with the Mets on Wednesday ahead of Thursday's official activation. D'Arnaud went 1-for-8 with a two-run homer and caught seven innings during his rehab assignment with Double-A Binghamton. His final game for the B-Mets was cut short by rain. The game was suspended in the second inning.

D'Arnaud will switch to a conventional catcher's mask (with separate skull cap) now that he's back. While the mask sits slightly farther away from his face than the hockey-goaltender mask he formerly wore, slightly reducing his peripheral vision, d'Arnaud feels the conventional style is less restrictive. He received his last two concussions while wearing the hockey mask and wants to switch things up anyway.

D'Arnaud's return incidentally gives the Mets a statistical quirk. He joins Jacob deGrom and Matt den Dekker on the active roster, making the Mets the first team in MLB history with three active players with surnames beginning with a lower-case "D."

According to research by ESPN’s Doug Kern, the Kansas City Royals had two -- first baseman Luis de los Santos and pitcher Jose de Jesus -- for two Septembers (1988 and '89).

Taking the fifth: Keith Hernandez steered clear of discussing with reporters on Thursday afternoon fired hitting coach Dave Hudgens' critical comments about the SNY analysts. It was Mex's first time assigned to a game since Hudgens did the media circuit.

Bobby O: Collins plans to start Bobby Abreu on Friday against right-hander A.J. Burnett. The manager might have used Abreu in the outfield on Thursday, too -- with Chris Young on the bench -- had Phillies starter David Buchanan's numbers made it sensible. Although Buchanan is a right-hander, righty batters hit .305 against him in nine Triple-A starts this season (versus .297 for lefty batters).

Collins noted it certainly is easier to play right field at Citizens Bank Park than at Citi Field, which makes prioritizing offense easier. The manager added that he just needs to be careful about overdoing it with Abreu.

"You've just got to be careful about wearing him down," Collins said.

Con'grad'ulations: Guy Conti, who served as the Mets' bullpen coach during the Pedro Martinez era, is back with the big-league club for the three-city road trip. Conti, 72, officially will step in when bench coach Bob Geren takes a brief leave for his son's graduation from Princeton and again when Dan Warthen takes a brief leave for his daughter's high school graduation in Oregon.

Record-setting: Barring a postponement, this series in Philly will mark the first time in franchise history the Mets play five straight days in one road city.

That prompted Collins to recall his days managing in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League and Hawaii had a team, which spanned from 1961-87. Because of the extensive travel involved, visiting teams would go there for 10 games. Collins laughed that the visiting team would typically win the first two games and then lose the next eight because of the island's distractions.

The same danger presumably does not exist in Philly, although perhaps the Mets will have to avoid overdosing on cheesesteaks.

More seriously, Collins noted that hostilities can start to rage toward the end of a five-game series, especially if one side -- or batter -- is dominating the other side. So stay tuned to see if emotions stay in check come Monday's finale.

The Mets play 25 of their next 33 games on the road.
Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Daniel Murphy
BA HR RBI R
.295 9 54 75
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 27
RBIL. Duda 81
RD. Murphy 75
OPSL. Duda .821
WB. Colon 14
ERAJ. Niese 3.55
SOZ. Wheeler 173