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12/18/12 8:30 PM ET
Newest Mets embrace change of scenery
d'Arnaud, Buck, Syndergaard discuss opportunities with New York
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- The shock has worn off. Now it's time for the anticipation to take over. The three principal players the Mets acquired from the Blue Jays in the R.A. Dickey trade took part in a conference call on Tuesday, and they spent the time addressing their excitement about joining a new team. Travis d'Arnaud, the centerpiece of the deal, joined big league catcher John Buck and pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard on the call to detail the early returns. d'Arnaud, a catcher who grew up watching Mike Piazza and Russell Martin, said he can't wait to join his new organization. "I'm really looking forward to playing with the New York Mets," d'Arnaud said. "I've heard it's a great organization to be with, and they've got a good young team coming up and I'm really excited." d'Arnaud, thought by many analysts to be on the verge of a big league breakthrough, has plenty of reasons to be excited. d'Arnaud batted .333 with 16 homers and 52 RBIs in 67 games for Triple-A Las Vegas in 2012, and he'll have time to make a claim on the starting job in New York. The youngster's season was cut short by a knee injury, but he said that he feels comfortable and confident to attack his position come Spring Training. And when he gets the chance, d'Arnaud said he won't feel like he has to put pressure on himself to meet expectations. For that, he can only thank recent history. d'Arnaud, the 37th overall selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, was previously involved in a trade for Roy Halladay. And now that he's the main target in a deal for the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, d'Arnaud isn't going to take a different tack. "I've been through this before in the Halladay trade, and I just tried not to pay attention too much to it," d'Arnaud said. "I just try to focus on what I can control, just work hard and do as much as I can to become a better player each and every day. Just keep working hard and get to the grind." The topic eventually turned to d'Arnaud's role models, and as a lifelong Dodgers fan, he said that he grew up partial to Piazza and Martin. d'Arnaud wanted to hit and catch like Piazza, and now that he's in New York, he has a chance to be a focal point of the Mets, just like his former favorite. "As a catcher," d'Arnaud said, "I feel team chemistry is important, and knowing your pitching staff is definitely one of the most important things as a catcher. Growing together, learning each other's strengths and weaknesses is a good way to build a championship team and a championship organization." And if d'Arnaud isn't ready to do that right away, the Mets have Buck to lighten the load. New York traded two catchers -- Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas -- in the Dickey trade, so it will need Buck to come in and be productive when he plays. Buck, to his credit, relishes the challenge. "I'm excited for the opportunity to come here and to be a part of what the Mets are trying to do," Buck said. "This team -- this organization -- obviously they've got a rich history. I couldn't be more thrilled to be a part of it, of helping this team and this organization move forward and improve. And for the organization to kind of pick me to be a part of the position I'm at, to help move forward with some of the young pitchers and stuff, I think it's an opportunity for myself to play for the New York Mets." Buck, 32, batted .198 with 12 home runs for the Marlins last season. But for his career -- a nine-year stretch in the Majors -- Buck has batted .235 with 118 home runs in 948 games. The backstop was an All-Star in 2010, when he batted .281 and hit 20 homers for Toronto. Syndergaard, one of the keys to the deal, was the 38th overall selection in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft and pitched to an 8-5 record and a 2.60 ERA for Class A Lansing last year. Syndergaard, just 20 years old, said he could thank a late burst in high school for his lofty Draft position. "First scrimmage of my senior year in the winter, I noticed that I [had] picked up some velocity," said Syndergaard, a native of Mansfield, Texas. "And every game after that, I started picking up more and more velocity and more teams started looking at me. It was just sort of the process of getting more mature and things like that, like growing. I wasn't known to be a chunky kid, but I was bigger. And going into my junior year, I started working out harder and I grew a little bit. I just matured." Syndergaard also spent some time putting out a fire of his own making. He made a comment on Twitter last month that contained an anti-gay slur, and he apologized profusely on Tuesday for his poor judgment in that episode and for the way he first gained notoriety. "I'm really so sorry that the first introduction to being a New York Met had to be like this," Syndergaard said. "I guess as you guys might have heard this morning, I had a little mishap on Twitter about a month ago, and it was just brought to [my] attention this morning. I just wanted to apologize for anything that was said. A buddy and I were having a little conversation, and I used a poor attempt at humor and an even worse attempt at using a term that I shouldn't have used."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.