There was no one in the Mets clubhouse more disappointed Thursday afternoon. Not only had the Mets been swept in Denver, but when veteran catcher John Buck heard the news that catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud had broken his foot in a Triple-A game the night before, Buck reached for his phone.

He sent a text message to d’Arnaud, who was flying in to meet the Mets’ team doctors, and tried to make plans to pick up the younger catcher at the airport in New York and take him for lunch.

That may surprise some people. After all, d’Arnaud is the Mets’ much-hyped catcher of the future, while Buck came into this season considered as the kid’s place-holder. In the trade that sent R.A. Dickey to Toronto in December, d’Arnaud and pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard were the headlines and Buck was an afterthought.

Buck’s interest in d’Arnaud does not surprise teammate Brandon Lyon.
“For him, he is comfortable with how good he is, I don’t think he is thinking about the next guy pushing him out at all,” said the Mets reliever, who grew up playing with Buck in Utah. “His thought is, ‘I am going to make this guy better and I know how good I am.’ That’s just his mind-set every day. He’s here to help all of us.”

Now, with d’Arnaud’s climb to the majors delayed by the fractured bone in his left foot, Buck has become and even more important part of the Mets’ season.

After a disappointing year in Miami last season, the 32-year-old Buck might be the biggest surprise in all of baseball, off to a blistering start. He has a team-high seven home runs and has driven in 22, which leads the NL.

“It’s heightened just because it’s right at the front of the season,” Buck said of his seven homers. “It adds the extra feel-good feeling, I guess. I’m gonna ride it as long as I can.”

Buck had a career-high 20 home runs and 66 RBI in 2010 with the Blue Jays. Coincidentally, that was a year he was in an almost identical situation, holding the spot for then-prospect J.P. Arencibia.
Buck felt the same way about the situation with Arencibia as he does with d’Arnaud.

“I truly believe that competition makes you better, I stand by that,” Buck said. “It makes Travis better, it makes me better, it makes the Mets better. It’s a good situation for everyone.”