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"I looked at other places, but it seemed like the right thing to do," Lyon said. "I don’t know how long I am going to be here, so I said, ‘Let’s experience New York when we can — let’s do it right.’ "
They’ve embraced it, too. Buck had his catcher’s mask professionally painted to feature a Big Apple, the 9/11 memorial, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan Skyline.
Buddies for life
John Buck in 2013 (through April 10 games)
AB Runs Hits RBIs BB SO Avg.
32 7 12 15 1 5 .375
Brandon Lyon in 2013 (through April 10 games)
W L ERA SV IP H ER BB SO
1 0 0.00 0 3.1 1 0 0 4
"It has been fun," Buck said, "Growing up, playing on a big stage like New York is kind of what you dream about. And to be able to do it with Brandon here, it is pretty fun."
Don’t look now, but the defensive-minded catcher and masterful game-caller who was supposed to manage the Mets’ abundance of young arms and just be a stop-gap offensively until d’Arnaud is ready to be the Mets’ everyday catcher is leading the National League in RBIs, with 15. He has already homered five times.
Buck’s offensive production dipped drastically in Miami — he hit just .192 last season — after he made the All-Star team in 2010 with the Blue Jays and hit 20 homers with a .281 average.
He has rediscovered his swing in New York, and is a big reason the Mets have started 5-4.
"It feels good," Buck said moments after homering April 3 in the Mets’ 8-4 win over the Padres. "If I was going to write it up, this is the way I would do it. I am not trying to do too much, just staying relaxed and not trying to force the issue."
Through Wednesday, Buck was hitting .375.
Lyon is also flourishing on the big stage, in limited opportunities. Through Wednesday, he had yet to allow an earned run in four appearances and 3.1 innings of work.
"Coming into spring, this was the best I have felt in three years or so," said Lyon, who had season-ending surgery on his right biceps and shoulder in June of 2011. "Being able to have a full offseason to train, and getting my arm caught up, has been really good. I feel really healthy right now."
Ties to Utah still strong
Lyon has a home in St. George and still lives there in the offseason, while Buck has homes in Miami and Bluffdale and splits his offseason time between Florida and Utah.
Both players said growing up in baseball-crazy Taylorsville started them on the path to lengthy professional baseball careers. They credited their high school coach, Steve Cramblitt, for nurturing that desire to become a big-leaguer, and Lyon said that Mike Littlewood, who was his pitching coach at Dixie State and is now the head baseball coach at BYU, was also influential in his development.
"Obviously, Steve Cramblitt had a huge, huge impact on both of us," Buck said. "Not just teaching us how to play baseball, but how to prepare mentally and physically, how to play the game at a higher level. We are still very fortunate, even to this day, to have been coached by him. Even now, it pays off, some of the stuff he taught us."
And they get to play together again, which may be the biggest reward of all.
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