In the span of just a few hours, the Mets managed to lose one catcher for the year and their other catcher for a month.
Travis d’Arnaud will undergo Tommy John surgery to repair a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow next week, the Mets announced Friday. He is out for the season.
For the sake of convenience, the Mets used the same news release to announce Kevin Plawecki’s recuperation time. He is expected to be out about three to four weeks with a non-displaced hairline fracture in his left hand, the club said. Plawecki will not require surgery and will resume activities once the discomfort in his hand subsides, general manager Sandy Alderson said.
The Mets already had called up Tomas Nido to replace d’Arnaud, and on Friday, they called up Jose Lobaton from Triple-A Las Vegas to replace Plawecki. Lobaton started Friday night against the Brewers, batted eighth and tripled in his first at-bat. The Mets also recalled Brandon Nimmo after moving d’Arnaud to the 60-day disabled list.
Alderson called Nido and Lobaton a “very short-term” solution and said the Mets intend to monitor the trade market and are willing to add payroll. There are a host of options if the trade price is right, which Alderson acknowledged. He even quipped that the “short term” he was referring to would be until about 11 p.m. Friday.
“As we’ve noted in baseball over the offseason and early in the season, there are some teams that probably aren’t trying that hard. So I’m not sure the [baseball] calendar is even relevant in those cases,” he said.
“We lost two catchers within a span of 24 hours; we could lose another one. And then of course, we’re always looking to improve. But I think right now we want to give [Nido and Lobaton] an opportunity to see what they can do. They’re both capable defensively. They might be a little challenged offensively. One of the reasons we brought Nimmo back was to anticipate the possibility of more pinch hitting late in the game. So we’ll just have to see.”
Plawecki, who was hit by Tayron Guerrero’s pitch Wednesday against the Marlins, originally said X-rays of the hand were clean, as did manager Mickey Callaway. Alderson said the Mets grew concerned when Plawecki had trouble with his grip and had lingering pain, and a subsequent MRI Thursday revealed the fracture.
Plawecki said this is his first time on any disabled list.
As for d’Arnaud, he said surgery seemed like the only good option. Though players sometimes play through partial tears, the location of his tear made that all but impossible. He said he felt the telltale twinge in his elbow somewhat suddenly while doing extra throwing work the first day of the Miami series.
A player with a tear like d’Arnaud’s has an “extremely low percentage of coming back without getting surgery, including PRP [platelet-rich plasma] shots or whatever other injections you can think of,” d’Arnaud said. “And if three months from now I’m feeling the exact same, then I miss an additional three months” of next season.
Neither he nor Alderson was able to say if d’Arnaud will be back for spring training next year, though d’Arnaud noted that recovery times can be shorter for position players. He never has played a full season in the majors because of various injuries.
“It’s really tough, especially with this great group of guys, this championship atmosphere,” he said. “It was tough. Still is tough.”
Vargas progressing. Callaway said Jason Vargas (broken right hand) struck out 14 in his simulated game Friday and is expected to throw another Tuesday before facing live hitters. Callaway said he expects Vargas to play in a minor-league rehab game before he rejoins the Mets, though that could change.