J.T. Realmuto has been cleared for baseball activities, manager Joe Girardi told reporters (including NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury). Realmuto’s tasks today included hitting off a tee and making 40 throws from 90-foot distances, as the catcher continues to work his way back from a right thumb fracture. There is some optimism that Realmuto will be ready to go for the Phillies’ opener on April 1, with Salisbury writing that the club could take it easy with Realmuto’s playing time over the season’s first week or so, should Realmuto still need a bit of prep time.
A brief injured list to begin the season also isn’t out of the question for Realmuto, as with backdating, he would only miss the first six games. Backup catcher Andrew Knapp would step in as the interim starter, though finding a second catcher could be a little complicated. Rafael Marchan (the only other catcher on the 40-man roster) is battling a hamstring problem, so the Phillies could need to open up a 40-man space to find room for Jeff Mathis or Christian Bethancourt, both in camp on minor league deals.
More injury updates from around baseball….
- Padres outfielder Trent Grisham left today’s game with what manager Jayce Tingler called “a slight strain in his hamstring.” Grisham didn’t think the injury was terribly serious, but Tingler told MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell and other reporters that Grisham will be re-evaluated tomorrow. Grisham enjoyed a breakout season in 2020 that included a Gold Glove, and while the Padres have a lot of depth, they won’t be able to easily cover center field if Grisham’s hamstring lands him on the IL. Jurickson Profar might be the top fill-in choice, as Profar has been getting some work in center field this spring.
- Ender Inciarte has been hampered by a thumb injury that has kept him out of action since March 4. Braves manager Brian Snitker told reporters (including Gabriel Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution) that Inciarte is “progressing, but he’s not to the point he can go out and get a game at-bat right now, so we’ll have to see.” As Burns notes, star prospect Cristian Pache was already looking like a strong bet to break camp with the team, and an Inciarte absence would all but assure Pache of a spot on the Opening Day roster. Inciarte hit only .190/.262/.250 over 131 PA in 2020, and is now entering the last guaranteed year of his contract. With Pache and another noteworthy prospect in Drew Waters both knocking on the door for MLB playing time, Inciarte might be in his final year in Atlanta even if he does have a bounce-back season.
- Cubs catcher Austin Romine hasn’t played since the weekend due to a right knee sprain, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. While the problem isn’t considered to be too serious, there isn’t yet any plan for when Romine could return to action. The veteran catcher signed a one-year, $1.5MM free agent deal to act as Willson Contreras’ backup this season. Should Romine have to miss any time, veteran Jose Lobaton (in camp on a minors contract) would likely get the call, though the Cubs would have to make another move to add Lobaton to the 40-man roster.
- Marlins righty Jorge Guzman is battling elbow inflammation and will be “out for a bit” of time, GM Kim Ng told the Miami Herald’s Jordan McPherson (Twitter link) and other reporters. The hard-throwing Guzman was acquired as part of the Giancarlo Stanton trade in December 2017, and he ranked 87th on Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list prior to the 2018 season. Guzman made his MLB debut in cup-of-coffee fashion in 2020, tossing one inning and allowing two homers.