Sunday, August 25, 2013
D'Arnaud's first HR brings Citi to its feet
By Matt Ehalt
That was easy: D'Arnaud takes his curtain call.
NEW YORK -- As Travis d'Arnaud settled into the dugout after his first career homer, the fans stood on their feet and applauded. They wanted another glimpse of the team's top prospect.
Inside the dugout, the youngster didn't realize what was unfolding until a few teammates gave him the heads up: the 32,084 at Citi Field wanted to give him a curtain call.
He grabbed his helmet, ran to the top of the dugout steps and tipped the helmet, earning a roaring ovation from the hometown crowd.
"I didn't see it coming," D'Arnaud said of the curtain call. "I'm very grateful to the city of New York for asking for me."
D'Arnaud gave Mets fans a glimpse into his potential as he crushed the two-run, fourth-inning shot over the left-centerfield wall, temporarily giving the Mets a 3-2 lead in what became an 11-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers. The homer came on the 17th at-bat of the 24-year-old's career, and it marked his first RBIs. D'Arnaud finished 1-for-3.
"Speechless," D'Arnaud said. "Unbelievable feeling, but we got the loss. Bittersweet."
D'Arnaud, the key piece the Mets acquired when they traded R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays in the offseason, is one of the core players the Mets hope to build around. The 24-year-old catcher debuted last Saturday, and it's been a slow start for him offensively. He started his career 0-for-10 before doubling in Tuesday's win against Atlanta, and entered Sunday's game 1-for-15.
Sunday, d'Arnaud showed why he's projected to be an impact bat. D'Arnaud returned to the dugout to a gauntlet of teammates waiting to congratulate him.
"It's unbelievable. Team's been here for me the whole time I've been here," D'Arnaud said. "Really thankful."
D'Arnaud received his home run ball from a fan in exchange for a bat and a ball. After giving the ball from his first hit to his father, Lance, d'Arnaud is going keep this one as a souvenir.
"This is the one I wanted," he said.
The Mets have asked a lot of d'Arnaud during his first eight days in the majors as they've made him their starting catcher, supplanting veteran John Buck. They wanted their catcher of the future to have the opportunity to gain valuable experience.
D'Arnaud has had to become reacquainted on the fly with the team's pitching staff. Sunday, catching Dillon Gee, marked the first time that d'Arnaud has worked twice with one of the team's starters.
His career started a little slow, but d'Arnaud has now recorded his first hit, homer and RBI, knocking out the big trio of hitting firsts. He acknowledged that he feels a lot more relaxed and comfortable than he did when he made his debut on Aug. 17.
"It's just about relaxing and realizing its still baseball," D'Arnaud said. "Just play the way you play."