Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto has a fractured right thumb and might not be ready to rejoin the ballclub for Opening Day, manager Joe Girardi told reporters, including Scott Lauber, on Thursday. The fracture happened six days ago, according to Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Girardi told reporters that the fracture is at the base of Realmuto's throwing thumb and it'll be immobilized for two weeks before the team doctors re-evaluate. The manager said they are "hopeful" Realmuto will be in the opening day starting lineup, giving us a good idea of a possible timetable for his return. The Phillies open the season Thursday, April 1 at home against the Braves.
Realmuto, 29, signed a five-year, $115 million to return to the Phillies this past offseason after a few months of free agency.
Last season, Realmuto hit .266/.349/.491 (123 OPS+) with 11 homers and 32 RBI in 47 games. The two-time Silver Slugger and one-time Gold Glover has established himself as one of the best catchers in baseball, known for his consistency and all-around great play. He's one of the best framers around and is one of the fastest-running catchers in addition to his prowess with the bat.
If Realmuto is to miss any time, it looks like Andrew Knapp would take over duties behind the plate. Knapp hit .278 with a .404 on-base percentage in 89 plate appearances last season, but he's a career .230/.337/.350 hitter.
Long-time glove-first backstop Jeff Mathis is also in camp and would serve as a fine backup in this scenario.
Still, from the way Girardi appears to have been discussing the injury, it doesn't sound too serious and opening day is still six weeks away. The most likely outcome here is Realmuto is ready to go either by opening day or very shortly thereafter.