In a recent bullpen session with new Phillie José Alvarado, J.T. Realmuto suffered what Joe Girardi called a “small” fracture at the base of his right thumb. His thumb will be immobilized for two weeks, though all parties involved remain hopeful that the two-time All-Star will be ready for opening day on April 1.
Realmuto said he was attempting to slide to his right to block a breaking ball in the dirt, but his right hand slipped out from behind his glove, exposing the now-injured thumb. The initial injury took place six days ago, though Realmuto didn’t have the MRI which revealed the fracture until Wednesday.
“I tried to play catch yesterday, and it just didn’t feel right,” Realmuto said Thursday afternoon. “So I went and talked to the trainers and they wanted to get an MRI just to check on it. Even when we were going to get the MRI, I didn’t think it would be a big deal, it felt like just a bone bruise to me because I was able to hit and everything without any problem. The only thing that really hurt me was throwing. So I was kind of shocked when I found out it was fractured, but I wasn’t too worried about it until after we got the MRIs back.”
As noted in the tweet above, Realmuto will have his thumb put in a cast, though it appears to be out of an abundance of caution.
“We’re obviously going to be cautious with it, I think that’s why we’re immobilizing it for a couple weeks just to make sure that it has the time to heal. And [we’re] going to put it in a cast, so I can’t mess it up by trying to do something too fast. I feel pretty confident that after that two weeks it will be healed because it already feels quite a bit better than it did the day it happened, so it’s definitely going to heal on its own. I’m confident that I’ll be back by opening day, but we can’t set that in stone just because you never know what could happen. We’re going to take our time with it, if I have to miss the first three days of the season, I would rather do that than rush back and have something linger a little longer.”
If not Realmuto on opening day, Andrew Knapp would likely be the team’s starting catcher. Knapp had a strong 2020 campaign, slashing .278/.404/.444. Girardi called the Phillies “fortunate” to have Knapp Thursday, though with all due respect to the 29-year-old, anyone other than Realmuto behind the plate would be a downgrade.
Should Realmuto not be ready for opening day, the Phillies will also need someone else to back Knapp up. Veteran Jeff Mathis is in camp, but isn’t on the 40-man roster. 21-year-old Rafael Marchan, who got a cup of coffee with the team last year, is on the 40-man roster. Girardi indicated that the Phillies would have to assess how long Realmuto would be out for in determining their best path forward as the temporary backup catcher.
Still, Realmuto, who will turn 30 next month, doesn’t believe it will come to that.
“I’m not very worried about my thumb, so if I was a Phillies fan, I wouldn’t be too worried.”
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