Padres catcher Austin Nola has suffered a fractured left middle finger, manager Jayce Tingler announced to reporters (including AJ Cassavell of MLB.com and Dennis Lin of the Athletic). The injury occurred when Nola was struck with a foul tip during yesterday’s Spring Training contest, Tingler added. A definitive timetable will become clearer in a couple days.
With less than three weeks until Opening Day, it’s possible Nola will have to open the season on the injured list. If that’s the case, San Diego does have a capable replacement. Backup Víctor Caratini has a .250/.327/.372 line over the past four seasons and has generally rated well defensively. The 27-year-old also has a rapport with Yu Darvish, part of the reason he was acquired alongside the reigning NL Cy Young runner-up in this offseason’s blockbuster with the Cubs. Top prospect Luis Campusano is the only other catcher on the Padres’ 40-man roster. Campusano made his MLB debut last year due to the anomalous nature of the 2020 season but has only played one game above the High-A level.
While the Friars are more equipped than most teams to handle an absence to their top catcher, losing Nola for any extended period of time would be a difficult blow. Despite not making his MLB debut until his age-30 season in 2019, Nola has rather incredibly broken out as one of the sport’s most productive backstops over the past two seasons. He has a cumulative .271/.347/.461 slash between the Mariners and Padres, popping 17 home runs in 451 plate appearances while showcasing high-end glovework behind the plate.