SAN FRANCISCO -- Terry Collins does not know the precise length of time Travis d'Arnaud will spend with Triple-A Las Vegas. d'Arnaud will dictate that by how well he makes mechanical adjustments to his swing and how much he produces.
Regardless, Collins said Sunday, the catching prospect will be making more than a cameo in the Pacific Coast League. Collins suggested d'Arnaud might need 50 at-bats of continued success with the 51s before a return is considered.
A surprised d'Arnaud was demoted after Saturday's game. He had been 3-for-26 since returning from a concussion and was hitting only .180 for the season.
"I don't have a timeframe," Collins said, "but it's going to take him a while to get it going to where we think it's, 'Hey, look, it's time to bring him back here.'"Joel Auerbach/Getty Images
Travis d'Arnaud was demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas late Saturday.
Collins said the staff had been debating the merits of a d'Arnaud demotion for a week to 10 days.
Team officials showed extreme patience with Ike Davis two years ago when considering demoting the first baseman. However, Collins said, the difference with d'Arnaud is that now the entire team is struggling, so d'Arnaud's woes become magnified.
"When you're struggling like we're doing right now, we felt now was the time," said Collins, whose team takes a season-high-matching five-game losing streak into Sunday's series finale at San Francisco. "In Ike's case, we were winning. When it came down to, 'Should we send Ike out? Should we not?' we were playing good. So he wasn't a major factor. Now, you're not playing good, all of a sudden you've got to get some offense."
Collins worried about d'Arnaud's struggles affecting the rookie's confidence, but the manager indicated the primary demotion motivation is mechanical -- that there are tangible adjustments with d'Arnaud's swing that need to be made. It's not conducive for a 25-year-old rookie to make those changes while facing major league pitching and handling an entire pitching staff, team brass reasoned.
"There's not a lot of room for forgiveness here," Collins said.
The manager described d'Arnaud as surprised.
"It's very hard. He is our guy coming into spring training, and he's been our guy since he got called up last year," Collins said. "But he's a young player who is still learning, still trying to get better. You weigh the factors of: Is he getting something out of this? Or is it hurting him in the long run to continue to struggle?
"As I told him last night, 'You're not the reason we're not scoring, but right now the fingers are being pointed in your direction, which I don't think is necessarily fair. So right now you've got to go get your swing, come back and tear it up like everybody expected.'
"This level can humble you. Confidence is everything in our game -- with the belief that you belong here, the belief that you can play here. When you start to struggle at a certain level, you've got to look in the mirror. And you don't want that doubt to creep in there. Not that it was in Travis' case, but I just said, 'To fix it, go down to Triple-A and find your swing.' One of the things we saw is he tried to make adjustments daily. That's hard to do. That's hard to do here."
Collins believes d'Arnaud's relative lack of Triple-A experience was a factor in his struggles. Because of injuries over a two-year period, d'Arnaud had only 335 Triple-A at-bats in a two-year period before reaching the majors.
"He never had the 500 at-bats that you'd like to see a guy accumulate per season, be it in the major leagues or minor leagues," Collins said. "Those guys that are everyday players, that are prospects, that get called to the big leagues, they get here because they've accumulated 2,000 at-bats in the minor leagues. He was so talented, he got here. But talent gets you here. What keeps you here is production."
As for when d'Arnaud will return, Collins added: "He's got to put up some numbers. ... If Travis goes down there and he starts to drive the ball like everybody knows he can do, he'll be back."