J.T. Realmuto’s second chapter with the Philadelphia Phillies is off to a rocky start.
The star catcher broke the thumb on his throwing hand while blocking a pitch six days ago. He practiced on the first day of spring training Wednesday, but an MRI later revealed the small fracture. His hand will be immobilized for two weeks, but it’s possible he’ll still catch pitchers during bullpen sessions.
Realmuto stated he’s confident he’ll be ready for the season opener on April 1 but wants to make sure his thumb has healed.
“I’m not very worried about my thumb, so if I was a Phillies fan, I wouldn’t be too worried,” he said Thursday.
Realmuto, 29, received a five-year, $115.5 million contract from the Phillies this offseason. The $23.1 million average annual value in Realmuto’s deal is the highest for a catcher in Major League Baseball history.
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Realmuto continues to be one of the best all-around catchers in the majors, hitting .266 with 11 homers and 32 RBIs with the Phillies during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He did not accept an $18.9 million, one-year qualifying offer, instead seeking a longer-term deal on the free-agent market.
Since 2018, Realmuto leads all MLB catchers in WAR (10.1), RBIs (189) and stolen bases (16) and is second in slugging percentage (.489) and OPS (.825).
His 57 home runs during that span rank third among MLB catchers.
Defensively, he has 11 runs saved over the past two campaigns, which ranks fourth among catchers who have played more than 1,000 innings.
The Phillies have already added Jeff Mathis to join Andrew Knapp and Rafael Marchan as their other catchers.
As a right-handed hitter, the injured thumb is on Realmuto’s top hand. Phillies manager Joe Girardi, a catcher for 15 seasons in the majors, stated the bigger test will be for Realmuto to grip the ball to throw.
Girardi said the Phillies could keep Realmuto involved in camp by having him catch bullpen sessions and flip the ball to someone else to throw back to the mound.
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