5/29/2014 7:28 P.M. ET
d'Arnaud returns, switches to traditional mask
Starting catcher back from seven-day DL, ditches hockey-style head gear
By Anthony DiComo / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud officially returned from the seven-day concussion disabled list Thursday sporting a new look -- he ditched his hockey-style goalie mask in favor of a more traditional catcher's helmet and mask -- and a new attitude.
"I feel good," d'Arnaud said, before amending it. "I feel great."
Originally switching to the goalie-style mask years ago in an effort to prevent head injuries, d'Arnaud lost faith in it after suffering two concussions while using the mask. The latest came on May 13 at Yankee Stadium, when Alfonso Soriano struck him on the top of the mask with a backswing. D'Arnaud missed more than two weeks with the injury.
Though goalie-style masks have gained significant traction among professionals over the past decade, the traditional catcher's mask gives d'Arnaud more flexibility, and no one on New York's medical staff forbade him from using it. So d'Arnaud played Thursday's game against the Phillies with the new mask on his head.
Knowing head injuries are a sometimes unavoidable part of a catcher's life, manager Terry Collins spent Thursday concerning himself more with what d'Arnaud can do to jump-start New York's offense. Not far removed from ranking among the highly touted offensive prospects in baseball, d'Arnaud has hit just .199 with four home runs over his first 62 big league games. He was in a 4-for-27 funk in the days leading up to his injury, lowering his season OPS to .588.
The Mets' primary backup, Anthony Recker, has outperformed d'Arnaud with a .229 average, two home runs and a .656 OPS in 25 games. In sum, the club's catching corps entered Thursday's play ranking 28th in the Majors in batting average (.217), 24th in on-base percentage (.282) and 26th in slugging percentage (.339).
"We've got to start getting some offense out of our catching position, for sure," Collins said.
Abreu slated to start Friday against righty Burnett
PHILADELPHIA -- Mets manager Terry Collins has resisted the urge to insert Bobby Abreu's hot bat into his lineup on a regular basis. Though Abreu entered the night with five hits in his most recent 11 at-bats, all of them coming during starts in the outfield, Collins benched him for Thursday's series opener in Philadelphia.
The reason was three-fold. At 40 years old, Collins said, Abreu can be prone to tiring more easily than other players. The Mets also must be wary of the tradeoff they are making with Abreu in the lineup, essentially swapping defense for offense, and they must understand that starting Abreu means they cannot pick their spots with their most experienced pinch-hitter.
Collins plans to make that sacrifice Friday, scheduling Abreu for a start against Phillies right-hander A.J. Burnett.
"You've just got to be careful about wearing him down," Collins said.
• The Mets on Thursday named Wes Engram to the newly created position of vice president of corporate partnerships sales and service. Engram will provide "leadership, management and strategic direction" for the club's corporate partnerships sales and service department, according to a release.
Engram joins the Mets from the Royals, where he served as senior director of corporate partnerships and broadcast sales since 2010. He has also worked for the Rays and the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, among other professional teams.
"I'm very excited to join the Mets in this new role, and look forward to creating new ways to connect our partners with our fans while providing value to both," Engram said in a statement.
• Former Mets bullpen coach Guy Conti met the team in Philadelphia, where he will serve as a temporary staff member over the weekend. Bench coach Bob Geren and pitching coach Dan Warthen both have leaves of absence scheduled to attend the high school and college graduations of loved ones.
• Thursday marked the beginning of an 11-game road trip for the Mets, who will play 25 of their next 33 games on the road.