Mets C Travis d'Arnaud is roughly a week away from catching in rehab games, assistant GM John Ricco told reporters in Pittsburgh on Monday.
In the meantime, Terry Collins said Monday that 32-year-old C Rene Rivera will begin handling most of the catching duties, pushing Kevin Plawecki to the bench.
Rivera was in Monday's starting lineup before it was postponed due to rain. It would have been his fourth start in five games, during which he has four hits, including a home run and three RBI (.286).
"We are in a situation with our young pitching staff that I like how [Rivera] can slow down the running game a little bit," Collins said.
Rivera has thrown out 43 percent of the 14 runners attempting to steal against him this season, compared to Plawecki's 28 percent.
"I always care about what I do behind the plate, how my pitcher reacts when I am behind the plate," Rivera said Monday, according to the NY Post. "I think I've got a pretty good idea about our staff and every day you learn something, but the main thing is I know what they like to do in different situations and it's good I could pick it up that quick."
D'Arnaud had been batting .196 in 46 AB before going on the disabled list on April 26 with a right rotator cuff strain. Last season, he hit .268 with 12 HR, while battling an elbow, wrist and finger injuries that sidelined him for 95 games.
"He's a big piece," Collins said of d'Arnaud. "When you talk about what we've done against left-handed pitching, Travis d'Arnaud has got pretty good numbers against left-handed starting pitching, so that is a pretty large chunk out of our lineup."
Despite having Plawecki and Johnny Monell in camp, the Mets were reportedly looking for a veteran back-up in March, even before d'Arnaud injured his shoulder. So, they obviously had concerns about their depth at catcher. Rivera seemed like a so-so signing. But, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz have both benefited from having Rivera's experience and arm behind the plate, since they both lag in their delivery. It's also worth noting that Rivera has been behind the plate during Matt Harvey's last two starts, during which he's pitched significantly better than in his previous starts.
The held Plawecki in high regard as recently as last summer. But, the fact is, he's repeatedly struggled at the plate, even when given extended stretches of playing time. Plus, he's not as sharp behind the plate as Rivera. The days of experimenting are over. The time to win is now. And, if Rivera is getting better results out of the pitching staff, if he's better behind the plate and he's hitting more than Plawecki, he should get the gear.