Travis d’Arnaud has had his struggles since being promoted to the big leagues in 2013, mostly from trying to live up to the pressures of playing in the big city and producing.
Coming into the 2014 season, the hype grew even larger and it might have just been too much for the young rookie to bear. So on June 7, the Mets made the right choice to demote d’Arnaud to Las Vegas who was only hitting .180 at the time. Many wondered, including myself, what would come of it, but it was obvious that d’Arnaud needed a fresh start and a new outlook on his future.
What looked like a bad situation, has actually helped turn d’Arnaud’s season around.
When the rookie catcher first arrived in Vegas, Marc Carig of Newsday writes that a roundtable session was set up, and it included 51s manager Wally Backman, hitting coach George Greer and pitching coach Frank Viola. All three helped d’Arnaud talk through the anxieties that weighed him down and helped to clear his head.
The support that he initially received helped to get him back on the right track, “I’ve had a lot of support,” d’Arnaud tells Newsday. “And I had a lot of help immediately, which was huge for me.”
In 15 games with the 51s, d’Arnaud hit .436 (24 for 55), six home runs and 16 RBI’s.
“He just needed to slow things down and understand that he was good enough to be who they wanted him to be,” Viola said. “But he had to be good enough for him first. He was putting so much undue pressure on himself that he just had to take a little time to step back.”
Viola continued, “He realized, ‘You know what? I am my own worst enemy right now.’ He got down here, he took care of his own little demons whatever they might have been, he saw the ball, hit the ball, and called the game. He did everything that was asked of him.”
That is all any coach or manager could ask for and what came of the initial decision to send him down, could become a saving grace on his career.
Since returning to the Mets on June 24th, d’Arnaud is hitting .295 (18 for 61) with five doubles, three home runs and 10 RBI’s.
“If I have a good at-bat, I’m happy now,” d’Arnaud said. “Before, if I had a productive out, if I lined out, I would get on myself so much because I was so worried about getting a hit. It helps me to stay even-keeled.”
Now as the Mets begin their second half on Friday and only five games under .500, d’Arnaud’s resurgence is key to a team still trying to find their identity and a young catcher still finding his way.
You can read Carig’s the full article here.
(Photo Credit:Jim McIsaac)