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Finally a Met, Centeno only working harder

Finally a Met, Centeno only working harder

Finally a Met, Centeno only working harder

NEW YORK -- Juan Centeno was about to head home to Puerto Rico for the offseason.

Triple-A Las Vegas had been eliminated from the Pacific Coast League playoffs, so Centeno figured his season was over. As he sat in the airport in Las Vegas waiting for his flight to board, the catcher received a call from his manager, Wally Backman, who told Centeno he wasn't going home. He had been rebooked on a flight to New York.

After seven seasons in the Minor Leagues, Centeno was heading to the Major Leagues for the first time. The Mets selected his contract from Las Vegas on Sept. 9.

"I've been working hard to get here," Centeno said. "Now that I'm here, I'm just going to keep working harder to try to stay."

Centeno said he called his father immediately after finding out he was heading to the Mets. His father has always been instrumental in his development, so Centeno wanted him to share in the excitement right away.

The 23-year-old, whom the Mets drafted in the 32nd round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, had started the season with Double-A Binghamton. But after just six games, he was promoted to Triple-A.

In 67 games with Las Vegas, Centeno hit .305 with a .346 on-base percentage and 28 RBIs. Defensively, he threw out 56 percent of baserunners trying to steal on him.

Now that Centeno is in the Major Leagues, his playing time is likely to be minimal.

After the Mets traded John Buck to the Pirates on Aug. 27, Travis d'Arnaud became the team's starting catcher, and the Mets are hoping he holds that role for years to come. So for now, they want to see him behind the plate as much as possible.

d'Arnaud's playing time in the Minor Leagues this season was dramatically reduced after he suffered a broken bone in his left foot in mid-April. d'Arnaud missed about three months of the season, so his time in the Major Leagues now is critical to his development for the future.

The Mets' backup catcher is Anthony Recker. Centeno is the last catcher on the depth chart, so his playing time will likely be slim for the final weeks of the season.

"We're going to try to get [Centeno] a game or so," Manager Terry Collins said. "We want to see as much of Travis as we can, because as we look forward, as we look to 2014, he's the guy."

Centeno understands the team wants to see d'Arnaud behind the plate. This opportunity still offers crucial experience, and at some point, he will get the chance to play in his first big league game.

"I want to play. I know the situation," Centeno said. "I'm just going to keep working hard, and when I get my chance, do my best."

Chris Iseman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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