WASHINGTON — His back problems subsided, James McCann is back.
The Mets activated their top catcher from the injured list Saturday morning before their doubleheader against the Nationals, and he started behind the plate in the second game. Because McCann served as the 29th man for the day, the team won’t need to remove anyone from the active roster until Sunday.
Mets decision-makers were comfortable with McCann returning without a minor-league rehabilitation assignment, manager Luis Rojas said, because they had him simulate innings/games, the same approach taken with Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez last month.
But Rojas wasn’t sure if McCann will be an everyday player immediately. Before getting hurt, he was starting in about half of the Mets’ games.
"After going through the game — and after the game — we’ll know some more in terms of how he’s gonna be for the next day," Rojas said. "The plan is just to see how he responds."
The Mets might carry three catchers, with McCann joining Patrick Mazeika and Chance Sisco, Rojas said. Mazeika has been the starter of late. Tomas Nido is out with a sprained left thumb.
McCann missed two and a half weeks with what the Mets called back spasms. They don’t know why he locked up, but McCann suspected a cross-country flight to San Francisco after a Sunday night game in New York might have contributed.
"It’s something he’s had. It happened to him years ago, with Detroit," Rojas said. "He can’t explain it. It’s just something that happens and it was like spasms, right? It got tight there. The thing right now is that he’s through it, it seems, and he’s ready to go for us today."
Sisco was fine, according to Rojas, after a collision at the plate with Washington’s Andrew Stevenson in the ninth inning Friday.
The Mets evaluated Sisco for a concussion, and he was a bit banged up in his left shoulder and left knee/ quadriceps, the parts of his body that took the brunt of the hit.
"He’s actually better than we expected," Rojas said. "Last night we were a little bit more concerned than we are right now."
The climax of Marcus Stroman’s performance against the Nationals was a highlight-reel play in the third, set up by Josh Bell’s hard ground ball up the middle.
Jonathan Villar, the third baseman playing shortstop in the shift, dropped a flip from shortstop Francisco Lindor, ruining a would-be double play. As Juan Soto took off for vacated third base, second baseman Javier Baez picked up the ball, began to chase Soto and threw to Stroman, who dived to apply the tag on Soto and record the out.
"I was stuck on the mound watching. I thought it was one of those inning-ending double plays," Stroman said. "As Soto broke, I thought for a second, I think I can beat him. Right in that moment I took off. And Javy threw a perfect lead pass. And I dove and got him. It was a pretty special play. I didn’t realize how cool it looked until I watched it afterward."
The Red Sox claimed righthander Geoff Hartlieb off waivers from the Mets. The Mets designated him for assignment Thursday.
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