This afternoon in Port St. Lucie, MetsBlog’s Michael Baron sat down with John Buck.
Here is his Q&A with Buck in which they discuss working with the pitching staff, Travis d’Arnaud, and Buck’s charity:
Michael Baron: Last week, you said something interesting to Kevin Burkhardt on SNY’s Mets Hot Stove about Johan Santana tipping his pitches, and you working with him on that this spring. Do you see yourself as a mentor for this staff?
John Buck: I think my experience helps. I think it’s an asset that I am able to work on the smaller, finer things and I can pick up on something they do. For instance, I can work with Johan and something he’s doing that he shouldn’t, or if it’s a younger guy, I can help them learn when to pull back on the reins, or step on their toes a little bit to get them going. Having that experience helps those little tiny moments, and it does have an effect when you’re able to press those buttons at the right time.
Michael Baron: It’s almost like an undervalued attribute of a catcher, especially from someone who comes in who has seen these pitchers on the other side of the ball. It’s something you don’t necessarily see on the field.
John Buck: They say those little things a catcher don’t get noticed. But those smaller things can have a profound effect. It hints of tools of ignorance, but those tiny intricacies are the big part of our game.
Michael Baron: Have you worked with any of the pitchers yet, or are you still surveying the landscape and observing them?
John Buck: I’m still trying to get a lay of the land. When you get to the point where you have a relationship and I really know the guys I can start to pick up on things. Right now, if something flares up, we will work to make improvements.
Michael Baron: Can you describe your relationship with Travis d’Arnaud?
John Buck: He’s a great kid, he’s eager to learn, and he’s not afraid to ask me questions. He knows me well enough to not shy away from me, especially if there’s something I can help him with. Obviously, he’s at that stage where he needs to be a sponge, soak the stuff that’s gonna help him, and weed out the stuff that’s not gonna help him.
Michael Baron: Is d’Arnaud a unique catcher in that he wants to learn and is willing to seek you out and take criticism?
John Buck: I’m not sure, but I feel like I’m pretty approachable. The only other person that I would have to compare him to is J.P. Arencibia. When I first met him it was a similar situation.
Michael Baron: Talk about your catcher’s mask you’re having painted for this season.
John Buck: I’ve been doing this for a few years, but I am taking suggestions from both Twitter and Instagram on how to design the mask, and after the season we’ll auction it off for charity. It seems the wilder it gets, the more money it seems to draw, and being in New York generates a lot more feedback than in either Miami or Kansas City. It should be fun whatever the artist decides to come up with.