“We gotta make sure we get him back healthy,” Carlos...

“We gotta make sure we get him back healthy,” Carlos Mendoza said about catcher Francisco Alvarez on Tuesday, April 23, 2024. Credit: AP/Ashley Landis

SAN FRANCISCO — For Francisco Alvarez, now the wait begins.

After surgery to repair the torn ligament in his left thumb went “as planned” Tuesday, as manager Carlos Mendoza put it, the Mets revealed a slightly tweaked timeline: They expect him back in the majors in eight weeks, which is mid-June.

Alvarez had shared a range of six to eight weeks, but the Mets said all along that they would know more after the operation. Given that Alvarez is a catcher and the injury is to his receiving hand — which absorbs a ton of blunt force every game — they figure two months is about right.

The challenge with Alvarez, Mendoza said, is ensuring he understands he should not and cannot rush.

“We have to be mindful,” Mendoza said. “I know he’s going to try to push it, but we gotta make sure we get him back healthy.”

How do you make sure of that with an eager 22-year-old?

“It’s an everyday thing. We gotta talk to him,” he said. “I know he’s going to want to push it. But making him feel like a part of the team as much as possible so he doesn’t feel like he’s not contributing. Whether it’s with meetings, the energy he brings, being around the team, make him feel ‘OK, I’m contributing, I’m doing something.’


“It's one of those where all of us are going to have to talk to him every day and making sure he doesn’t push it too much.”

Rimas Sports, the agency that represents Alvarez, wrote in a post on Instagram that he would be back by mid-July. But Mets officials reiterated that mid-June is their full expectation.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center orthopedic surgeon Dr. Steven Shin, highly regarded in sports as a world-class hand specialist, performed the surgery in Los Angeles.

Shin pioneered an internal brace version of the repair to the ulnar collateral ligament in thumbs, using synthetic tape to reinforce the UCL and greatly reduce the recovery time. His list of former patients includes Mike Trout, Drew Brees and Chris Paul.

A particularly relevant case for Alvarez: Salvador Perez. In 2022, the Royals catcher suffered a torn UCL in the thumb on his receiving hand, went to Shin for a fix and was back in five weeks, an extremely quick return.

“A thumb UCL repaired with an internal brace is several times stronger than the standard repair with suture alone,” Shin said in a 2020 article on Cedars-Sinai’s website. “It doesn't elevate the risk of infection or other complications. Some people are more comfortable with conventional surgery, and that's fine too. This newer technique just obviates the need for a cast after surgery and can get the patient back to activity much sooner.”


The Mets’ need to remove a catcher in the second inning Friday and decision to remove a catcher in the seventh inning Saturday raised a question: Who is the just-in-case third-stringer?

Utility infielder Zack Short, who in his eight-year pro career has played every position except first base . . . and catcher.

“That’s a good question,” Mendoza said with a laugh. “Shorty, I guess. We talked to him. When Alvy went down, I talked to (catching coach Glenn Sherlock). Throughout the game, I was like, all right, if something happens to (Omar Narvaez) here, who is the next guy in line? Shorty was the guy."

He’ll be there for you

The Mets-Giants game Monday represented a statistical milestone for Wilmer Flores: He now has played less than half of his career with the Mets.

He totaled 581 games with the Mets from 2013-18. And that was his 582nd with other teams (Giants and Diamondbacks).

Extra bases

J.D. Martinez’s first game with Triple-A Syracuse: 1-for-4 with an RBI single in his last at-bat. He is scheduled to play again Wednesday before the Mets decide his next step . . . Top pitching prospect Christian Scott in that game: 6 1/3 innings, two runs, eight strikeouts. He is up to 34 strikeouts (four walks) in 20 2/3 innings to go with his 3.48 ERA . . . The Mets activated righthander Max Kranick (left hamstring strain) from the injured list and optioned him to Syracuse. They plan to have him keep starting, so consider him another rotation depth option.


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