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d'Arnaud returns, switches to traditional mask

Starting catcher back from seven-day DL, ditches hockey-style head gear

PHILADELPHIA -- Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud officially returned from the seven-day concussion disabled list Thursday sporting a new look -- he ditched his hockey-style goalie mask in favor of a more traditional catcher's helmet and mask -- and a new attitude.

"I feel good," d'Arnaud said, before amending it. "I feel great."

Originally switching to the goalie-style mask years ago in an effort to prevent head injuries, d'Arnaud lost faith in it after suffering two concussions while using the mask. The latest came on May 13 at Yankee Stadium, when Alfonso Soriano struck him on the top of the mask with a backswing. D'Arnaud missed more than two weeks with the injury.

Though goalie-style masks have gained significant traction among professionals over the past decade, the traditional catcher's mask gives d'Arnaud more flexibility, and no one on New York's medical staff forbade him from using it. So d'Arnaud played Thursday's game against the Phillies with the new mask on his head.

Knowing head injuries are a sometimes unavoidable part of a catcher's life, manager Terry Collins spent Thursday concerning himself more with what d'Arnaud can do to jump-start New York's offense. Not far removed from ranking among the highly touted offensive prospects in baseball, d'Arnaud has hit just .199 with four home runs over his first 62 big league games. He was in a 4-for-27 funk in the days leading up to his injury, lowering his season OPS to .588.

The Mets' primary backup, Anthony Recker, has outperformed d'Arnaud with a .229 average, two home runs and a .656 OPS in 25 games. In sum, the club's catching corps entered Thursday's play ranking 28th in the Majors in batting average (.217), 24th in on-base percentage (.282) and 26th in slugging percentage (.339).

"We've got to start getting some offense out of our catching position, for sure," Collins said.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo.
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