Mets Notebook: Logjam at catcher ahead
The Mets may potentially have a logjam at the catching spot in a week or two.
Gary Sanchez got into the Mets’ lineup for the first time Sunday in the first game of a doubleheader against the Cleveland Guardians and went 1-for-3 with an RBI. The Mets were not going to use Francisco Alvarez for both games of a twin bill so the former Yankees’ backstop was tasked with catching right-hander Max Scherzer for the first time.
“They’re both good options and they’ve got a chance to contribute,” manager Buck Showalter said Sunday morning at Citi Field. “We knew that Max was going to pitch the first game and Justin (Verlander) the second, we wanted to keep them in order. I don’t want Gary waiting around too long, you don’t want him to get too far away from catching.”
Showalter didn’t go into all of the reasons they chose Sanchez to catch Scherzer, but during his tenure with the Mets, Scherzer has never been particular about working with specific catchers.
However, the two injured Mets catchers seem to be working their way back to Queens. Omar Narvaez, who has been out since the first week of the season with a left calf strain, is getting ready to go out on a rehab assignment. Tomas Nido, who is currently on the 10-day injured list with dry eye syndrome, hit a home run with Low-A St. Lucie on Sunday afternoon playing as the DH. Nido was used as the DH after being hit in the hand with a pitch during his rehab assignment, but the Mets aren’t concerned and the home run would indicate that there aren’t many reasons for concern.
Alvarez has been an important piece of the Mets’ lineup over the last few weeks, hitting .270 with four home runs, three doubles, seven RBI and a 1.048 OPS over his last 10 games. The Mets’ bats have broken out in a big way this week and it might be tough to justify sending him and his bat down to Triple-A.
“Francisco is in a good place and Gary is coming from Syracuse in a good place,” Showalter said.
Sanchez and Gio Urshela waere traded by the Yankees to the Minnesota Twins last March in a deal headlined by Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa. But his time in Minnesota was disappointing. The 30-year-old left as a free agent and signed a minor league contract with the San Francisco Giants in April, but was released after slashing just .164/.319/.182 in 16 games with Triple-A Sacramento.
The Mets picked him up on another minor league deal and he likely would have opted out of his contract and showed better in Syracuse, hitting .308 with a one home run and a 1.014 OPS in eight games. He was promoted to the big league roster shortly before his opt-out date.
Sanchez’s defense has long been in question and the defense of Alvarez has been shaky at times as well. Alvarez has improved his framing but he’s still struggling to throw out runners. Coming into Sunday, Alvarez had allowed 33 stolen bases and thrown out only four runners.
Nido and Narvaez may make the Mets’ decision challenging.
“I’m just focused on doing my job and taking advantage of the opportunity that I have,” Sanchez said through a translator. “We have a lot of catchers on this team, but at the end of the day, my job is just to help the team win.”
For now, the Mets will roll with Sanchez and Alvarez.
“We’re not there yet,” Showalter said. “We’ll deal with that when we get there. Hope everybody is healthy and that Omar doesn’t have injuries with the left calf. It’s a very precarious injury.”
Left-hander Jose Quintana threw his first bullpen since undergoing a bone graft surgery to repair a lesion on his left rib during spring training. He was “upbeat” about it and his velocity was in the high 80s and low 90s, similar to where it would be during spring training.
Left-hander Josh Walker joined the Mets in New York as the 27th man for both games of the Sunday doubleheader. He made his MLB debut earlier in the week against the Tampa Bay Rays.