Travis d’Arnaud’s Problem? Throwing With ‘Too Much Arm’…

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It made for a full day for d’Arnaud, but it is exactly what the Mets want as they try to turn around a player who, not long ago, was seen as someone with enough potential to be an All-Star. Lately he has been viewed somewhat skeptically.

In the off-season, some thought the Mets would try to upgrade their catching. But instead of bringing in a catcher from elsewhere, the Mets decided to add a catching coach.

Sherlock fills a void. After Bob Geren, a former major league catcher and coach, left the Mets for the Los Angeles Dodgers after the 2015 season, the Mets’ coaching staff lacked someone with real catching know-how.

And although the Mets’ pitching staff performed adequately in 2016 with d’Arnaud, Rene Rivera and Kevin Plawecki behind the plate, there were some issues. Among other things, the Mets threw out only 25 percent of base stealers, below the major league average of 28 percent. Some of that was because of d’Arnaud’s throwing woes.

This is what Sherlock is being asked to address, particularly with d’Arnaud. Sherlock was once a minor league catcher, so his assignment with the Mets comes naturally.

“It definitely helps that Glenn is here now,” d’Arnaud said. “Last year, that’s all on me. That’s not on anybody else. I messed up. That’s why I just worked hard this off-season with Glenn” — and with the Mets’ hitting coach, Kevin Long.

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Sherlock was once a minor league catcher, so his assignment with the Mets comes naturally.

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New York Mets

Sherlock spent the previous 19 years on the Arizona Diamondbacks’ coaching staff. With the Mets, his title is third base coach and catching instructor, but his main focus will be on righting d’Arnaud.

“Everybody in baseball has a bad year,” Mets Manager Terry Collins said he had told d’Arnaud as a way of pushing aside 2016. “But right now, we’re right on the cusp of being really, really good, and he’s playing a premier position for us, especially with our pitching staff. So the defensive side, that’s where we’ve got to really focus.”

To get a head start on his relationship with Sherlock, d’Arnaud flew this winter from his off-season home here in Port St. Lucie to Phoenix, where Sherlock lives. There, d’Arnaud, Sherlock and Plawecki had a few meals together.

“It was a chance to meet them and for them to meet me, and for us to talk and go back and forth with some ideas,” Sherlock said.

While in Phoenix, d’Arnaud, who hit .247 last season, also spent time in the batting cage with Long, who also lives there, and they talked frequently the rest of the winter. In January, Sherlock and d’Arnaud met again, this time in Los Angeles, while d’Arnaud was home for the holidays.

“He’s been great,” Sherlock said of d’Arnaud. “Very excited and very focused on our work. Watched a lot of video together. He asks a lot of questions. He wants to know where he’s at.”

And for now, that has been a better place than last season.

To get d’Arnaud’s throwing back in shape, he and Sherlock have been working on footwork and, in d’Arnaud’s words, preventing him from using “too much arm.”

“I was going forward and losing my center of gravity and losing my balance and not using my legs to drive the ball to second base,” he added. He said he hoped that the constant repetition of throwing drills with Sherlock would become second nature.

“He’s an excellent receiver,” Sherlock said. “He really can catch the low pitch. I like the way he moves behind the plate.”

In addition to d’Arnaud’s throwing, the Mets want some refinement in d’Arnaud’s pitch-calling. Sherlock will help in that regard, too. During batting practice this week, d’Arnaud has also flashed an improved swing. In the past, d’Arnaud was a constant tinkerer. He changed his stance “like the wind at times,” Long said.

Now, d’Arnaud’s swing has been quicker and shorter.

“What we’re doing with Travis is just trying to get him to repeat the same swing every day,” Long said. D’Arnaud agreed. “I’m looking for consistency,” he said. “Day in and day out, to be the same person and same player.”

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