After whirlwind offseason, Buck comfortable with Mets

Traded twice in a month, catcher set to contribute, mentor young d'Arnaud

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mets catcher John Buck had an unusually eventful offseason.

On Nov. 19, he and 11 other players found themselves included in the Marlins-Blue Jays blockbuster trade. Twenty-seven days later, Buck was one of seven players dealt between the Jays and Mets. He and prized catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud, 24, landed in New York for National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey.

The 32-year-old struggled during his two seasons with the Marlins after signing a three-year contract, hitting just .213 with 28 home runs and 98 RBIs. He was not in New York's starting lineup for Saturday afternoon's game against Miami.

"It all happened pretty quick," said Buck, a 2010 American League All-Star with Toronto. "I think I landed in the right place when it was all said and done. I think it's good, because I get to reset with new surroundings. I think that'll definitely help ramp it back for me."

Buck, a nine-year veteran, hasn't had much time to watch his locker neighbor and the organization's future backstop, d'Arnaud, in person, since the two play on separate days. He hopes that changes as the spring progresses because of d'Arnaud's potential and Buck's big league beginning.

In 2004, a 23-year-old Buck started 69 games as a rookie for the Royals following his June 25 debut. The next year, his workload bumped up to 112 games. He credits then-Kansas City manager Tony Peña for "softening the blow" of the Majors.

"He gave me immediate feedback and somebody who I was comfortable with if I didn't feel comfortable about something," Buck said of Pena, a former big league catcher. "It might've been a little more overwhelming if I didn't have that, especially that manager to go to and either tell me you can't do that or should do this. It was like having a dad for a manager, not afraid to come tell me if I needed to make an adjustment.

"It was more or less how to run a staff, how to be a big leaguer, [because] I was thrown into the thick of things right away. That age -- that's pretty abnormal to be thrown into the fire like that. He helped me take things into perspective and learn from my lumps, rather than just taking them and not knowing what's going on."