Glenn Sherlock may have been hired this past offseason to be the entire team's catching instructor, but he was clearly tasked with planting himself in Travis d'Arnaud's back pocket.
In the week that I've been here, I've only seen d'Arnaud out of ear shot from Sherlock once or twice, and it was walking from one field to another where Sherlock eventually ended up anyway...
"Glenn has done a lot of work, put a lot of thought in to this - he reports to and talks a lot with Terry and Sandy - and they have a good plan to get Travis where he needs to be as a receiver and a leader for the pitching staff," a team source told me this week.
"Glenn's a nice guy, affable, kind of like an uncle, and he gets this guy under his wing. He'll get through to Travis, he will, just like he did with Wellington Castillo."
Sherlock was hired away from the Diamondbacks, where he had been working since 1996. D'Arnaud's previous catching instructor, Bob Geren, left New York's bench for the Dodgers in 2015, meaning d'Arnaud went without that type of advisor during all of last season.
D'Arnaud and Sherlock met on multiple occasions this past winter in Arizona and Los Angeles where they analyzed video, worked on catching mechanics behind the plate, pitch selection, framing, and throwing, and the general psychology of catching.
"He was a huge help,'' d'Arnaud told the the NY Post's Kevin Kernan in early February." For the team to bring him in shows they have my back and they want me to get better. So, it's cool that he is here.''
According to Kernan, d'Arnaud also spent time this winter working with hitting coach Kevin Long, who attempted to rebuild the catcher's setup at the plate.
People that know him say Travis is an intense kid. He's 100 percent confident about the team and everyone around him, but he's really hard on himself.
When he's in a groove, relaxed, doing well and 'letting it flow,' he's the player we all want him to be. However, when he gets stuck in a bad habit, it's difficult for him to shake it because he gets in his own head and overthinks his way in to a deeper and deeper slump. This is why going to Las Vegas, getting away from New York, changing up his environment and having Wally Backman in his ear, pumping him up, getting him to believe in himself again, helped to turn him around.
"Kevin Long's job is to help Travis do his thing at the plate," I was told. However, "Sherlock's main job will be to make sure Travis leaves his at bats in the dugout so he can regain focus behind the plate."
It's easy to be down on Travis, who was first considered a top catching prospect nine years ago. I get it, we've been hearing about his 'potential,' and 'ceiling,' and being jerked around by it for nearly a decade. That said, catchers are notorious for developing late and he's still only 28 years old.
There is a reason Rene Rivera essentially stole the starting catcher's job late last season, while simultaneously becoming Noah Syndergaard's personal receiver. It's likely the same reason the Mets were reportedly trying to trade for Jonathan Lucroy, before the Brewers dealt him to the Rangers.
However, based on what I'm seeing from him here - and seeing how he's spending more time with his pitchers, and seeing the connection he's developing with Sherlock, and knowing what Glenn is capable of as a coach, plus knowing Travis's natural talent - I truly believe d'Arnaud will fully realize his potential this season.
By the way, d'Arnaud won whatever game Sherlock had him and the catchers playing during Wednesday's workout at Tradition Field...
Basically, with his catcher's rotating behind the plate, Sherlock threw baseballs in to the dirt, which were intended to be blocked. However, occasionally, he wouldn't bounce it, instead throwing a perfect strike to keep the catcher honest.
It was hard to fully understand the scoring system, but - basically - they were keeping tabs and assigning points to how many balls were blocked or missed. And if they blocked the ball, but it bounced away, points were taken away based on how out of reach the baseball was from their mitt.
The guys all were very much in to it. In the end, as you would hope, the competition came down to a one-throw playoff between Travis and Rivera.
In the end, d'Arnaud won, resulting in a nice fatherly smile from Sherlock...
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is the lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He recently left his position as Executive Editor and Dir. of Digital Content for SNY.TV to work with sports brands digital content businesses...