03/02/2013 5:40 PM ET
After whirlwind offseason, Buck comfortable with Mets
Traded twice in a month, catcher set to contribute, mentor young d'Arnaud
By Christina De Nicola / Special to MLB.com
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mets catcher John Buck had an unusually eventful offseason.
On Nov. 19, he and 11 other players found themselves included in the Marlins-Blue Jays blockbuster trade. Twenty-seven days later, Buck was one of seven players dealt between the Jays and Mets. He and prized catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud, 24, landed in New York for National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey.
The 32-year-old struggled during his two seasons with the Marlins after signing a three-year contract, hitting just .213 with 28 home runs and 98 RBIs. He was not in New York's starting lineup for Saturday afternoon's game against Miami.
"It all happened pretty quick," said Buck, a 2010 American League All-Star with Toronto. "I think I landed in the right place when it was all said and done. I think it's good, because I get to reset with new surroundings. I think that'll definitely help ramp it back for me."
Buck, a nine-year veteran, hasn't had much time to watch his locker neighbor and the organization's future backstop, d'Arnaud, in person, since the two play on separate days. He hopes that changes as the spring progresses because of d'Arnaud's potential and Buck's big league beginning.
In 2004, a 23-year-old Buck started 69 games as a rookie for the Royals following his June 25 debut. The next year, his workload bumped up to 112 games. He credits then-Kansas City manager Tony Peña for "softening the blow" of the Majors.
"He gave me immediate feedback and somebody who I was comfortable with if I didn't feel comfortable about something," Buck said of Pena, a former big league catcher. "It might've been a little more overwhelming if I didn't have that, especially that manager to go to and either tell me you can't do that or should do this. It was like having a dad for a manager, not afraid to come tell me if I needed to make an adjustment.
"It was more or less how to run a staff, how to be a big leaguer, [because] I was thrown into the thick of things right away. That age -- that's pretty abnormal to be thrown into the fire like that. He helped me take things into perspective and learn from my lumps, rather than just taking them and not knowing what's going on."
Roster spot in hand, Harvey works on refining pitches
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- In his second Grapefruit League start, Mets right-hander Matt Harvey continued working toward the regular season Saturday afternoon against the Marlins at Tradition Field.
The 23-year-old struck out four batters and walked another in 2 2/3 innings. He threw 49 pitches.
His lone blemish came on the third pitch of the game, which Marlins top hitting prospect Christian Yelich sent over the right-field wall for a home run.
"I thought Matt threw good," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Hung a slider first inning, and as you saw in different counts, he was working on some things. He threw some changeups behind in the count, which he needs to do. Now that he knows that he's got this club made, I think he's going about it the right way, which is, 'Hey, I've got to refine my stuff and get my stuff ready.'"
Unlike last season when the rookie didn't use his curveball that often over his 10 starts, Harvey utilized it and all his other pitches on Saturday. Though he was happy with his curveball, Harvey admitted his fastball location still wasn't where he wants it to be.
"It was a little cold and a little tough getting a grip on the ball, but I've got to get used to it and figure it out," said Harvey, who faced a game-time temperature of 59 degrees. "I did a lot of good things and I did a lot of bad things. Obviously I've still got work to do, but other than that, everything feels good."
Duda finds swing in return to Mets lineup
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mets right fielder Lucas Duda's bat warmed up in chilly weather in his return to the lineup against the Marlins on Saturday afternoon at Tradition Field.
The 27-year-old, who batted fifth, went 2-for-3 with a home run and two runs scored. The dinger -- his first in Grapefruit League action -- came off left-hander Mike Dunn in the sixth inning. In the previous frame, Duda doubled to left-center.
"We all know he's got the power," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "The home run was just added, but that ball in left-center field -- if he can continue to do that -- he's going to be dangerous."
According to general manager Sandy Alderson, a "minor medical issue" led to Duda's late scratch before Friday's game. Duda had a doctor's appointment earlier in the day, but did come back to the clubhouse. At the time, Collins was unsure whether Duda would return to the lineup on Saturday.
The outfielder missed two games earlier in the week when the Mets thought he wasn't ready for game action, going 0-for-7 with six strikeouts to begin the spring. He had fractured his right wrist moving furniture over the winter.
"I think after the start he had -- I salute him for the fact he finally said I'm not ready to play," Collin said. "He'd have gone out there and gone out there every day without resting. Today, you might walk in that locker room and [he would] say, 'OK, I think I'm going to be OK.'"
• With temperatures in the unseasonably low 50s on Saturday morning, flyers around the Mets' clubhouse urged players to stay warm during stretches and workouts.
• Early Saturday morning, Mets vice president of media relations Jay Horwitz tweeted: "Now that David Wright has left for WBC, thinking of dressing up in his uniform today. Will anyone know the difference? Look about the same." Hours later, Horwitz walked onto the field with Wright wearing the All-Star third baseman's uniform during batting practice to pose for a picture. The Mets' twitter account promptly placed the photo on its feed.
• Left-hander Pedro Feliciano, right-hander LaTroy Hawkins and right-hander Shaun Marcum will pitch Tuesday in a B game against the Marlins in Jupiter, Fla.
Christina De Nicola is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.