What resulted was 22 switches between d’Arnaud and Cabrera, and a box score that most like had few precedents in baseball history.
“It definitely feels like we switched that many times,” d’Arnaud said afterward.
The Mets’ plan to hide d’Arnaud, however, was not foolproof. In certain double-play situations, like those with a right-handed batter at the plate, Collins and his coaches had d’Arnaud stay at third because he had never turned a double play.
“We just told Travis that in the case of a double play ball, just make sure you get an out,” Collins said.
Despite the dizzying number of switches, the plan worked for the most part. Cabrera fielded a handful of ground balls at third base when d’Arnaud was at second, and D’Arnaud did not need to turn a double play. In fact, he only handled one ball all night, a pop-up to second base in the ninth inning of the Mets’ loss.
“It was fun,” he said. “I wish we would have won, though.”
Collins said the ingenious idea of hiding d’Arnaud by shifting him around the infield was not new: he had been a part of a similar implentation of the tactic in 1976, when he was a minor leaguer with Class AAA Albuquerque, but he had never tried it in the major leagues.
“We had a catcher and were short of players and right-handers,” Collins said of the earlier experience. “I went to third and the other guy went to second.”
So before Wednesday’s game, Collins told the Mets players that it could be done. “I’ve seen this done before, and not that it’s going to work, but it was the only option we had,” he said.
D’Arnaud insisted he was not nervous handling two new positions. He had played all over the infield as a kid, he said, so felt could do it again at age 28. Quietly, he said, he begged for balls to be hit to him.
“I wanted to make a diving play or a diving play down the line or rob someone of a base hit like people do to me,” he said.
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