Through 339 games in the major leagues, Travis d’Arnaud had only played one position: catcher. That all changed on Wednesday night, when the 28-year-old Californian suited up and took the field as the Mets’ starting third baseman.
D’Arnaud was set to be the starting catcher in the third game of the Mets’ Subway Series against the New York Yankees, but after infielders Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores were scratched from the lineup at the last minute with rib injuries, manager Terry Collins was forced to adjust on the fly. Working with a skeleton crew on his bench, Collins penciled backup catcher Rene Rivera into the 2-spot and sent d’Arnaud out to the hot corner for a baptism by fire.
The game got off to an uneventful start — Jacoby Ellsbury singled to give the Yankees a leadoff baserunner – but the chaos in the infield was only just beginning. D’Arnaud was playing third base when Ellsbury, a left-hander, came to bat, but when the right-handed Aaron Judge stepped into the box later on in the first inning, he moved over to second base, switching places with veteran infielder Asdrubal Cabrera. The idea was to mask d’Arnaud’s lack of experience by stationing him on the opposite side of every hitter who came to bat.
Collins continued this approach for the entirety of the game, sending d’Arnaud to third base against lefties and back to second base against righties. By the end of the night, he had created one of the most ludicrous box scores in the history of baseball:
— Scott Orgera (@ScottO_NY) August 17, 2017
Despite Collins’ meticulous adjustments, the Mets couldn’t pull out the victory, losing 5-3 thanks to a go-ahead double from Didi Gregorius in the seventh inning. But for what it’s worth, the plan to hide d’Arnaud, who used a glove belonging to injured team captain David Wright, went almost perfectly – he had just one chance in the entire game, successfully recording a putout.
“I was fired up … I wanted to make a diving play down the line or rob someone of a base hit like people do to me,” he said after the game. “I was looking forward to it.”
D’Arnaud didn’t get an opportunity to do any of that, but considering the circumstances, it was a successful experiment, especially when catchers are almost always dead weight when they play out of position. Don’t expect to see him at the hot corner again any time soon, however — the Mets recalled Matt Reynolds and Gavin Cecchini from Triple-A immediately following the game, so they have plenty of infield depth for now.
The Subway Series will conclude on Thursday, when the Mets will attempt to avoid being swept in four games.