NEW YORK -- Anthony Recker's throw to cut down Billy Hamilton on a stolen-base attempt in Friday's 4-3 win over the Reds was no lucky toss. Hamilton is one of the fastest baserunners in the game today -- by some estimates, in the history of the game -- and it took every bit of Recker's revamped throwing skills to catch him.
For much of the offseason and into Spring Training, Recker worked on simplifying his footwork and throwing motion in an effort to become a better defensive catcher. He drew rave reviews for the work this spring, before displaying those improvements on a much more prominent stage against Hamilton and the Reds.
"You've got to make a great throw, and he made a great throw," manager Terry Collins said. "Right on the money."
Perhaps familiarity helped as well; Friday was not Recker's first scrap with Hamilton. In 2012, as the Reds outfielder was racing into history by breaking Vince Coleman's single-season Minor League stolen-base record, Recker twice had opportunities to throw him out at second base. Both times, he felt his throws beat Hamilton to the bag despite successful steals.
Given that history, Friday's throw was personally satisfying for Recker in more ways than one.
"My shortstop told me he was out both times, so I'll believe him, because I thought I had him both times," Recker said.
On the roster this year as Travis d'Arnaud's backup, Recker's good fortune continued into Saturday, when he made his first start of the season. Recker is already receiving far more playing time than he did a year ago, appearing in three of the Mets' first five games.
Hamilton, meanwhile, sat out Saturday with a jammed left middle finger, which he injured on the steal attempt.
As for d'Arnaud, who entered Saturday's play 0-for-12 at the plate, the off-day gave him a chance to relax after a tough start to the season. d'Arnaud also struggled after his initial Major League callup in August, then endured a rough start to Spring Training before finding his power stroke late.
"It certainly is a concern if it starts to get in his head that he can't hit at this level," Collins said. "That's your biggest fear, is that all of a sudden, someone feels they can't do something. But Travis has always hit. He believes he can hit. He has great confidence in himself. He's just got to stay with it."