NEW YORK — Prior to Friday night’s game at Citi Field against the Seattle Mariners, the Mets were dealt the first significant blow to the regular lineup of position players.
Catcher James McCann will be out of the lineup for approximately six weeks due to a fractured left hand, the team announced Friday. Patrick Mazieka has been called up to replace McCann on the active roster.
McCann is formally being placed on the 10-day injured list but will undergo surgery to fix the fracture.
McCann had been out of the lineup for the past few days with what the team was calling “left wrist soreness”, but the team elected for an X-ray this morning that revealed a fracture.
“We did it as a precaution, because this has happened before,” manager Buck Showalter said Friday afternoon. “But something came back.”
McCann’s injury is a fracture of the hamate bone in his left hand, which is his catching hand. The hamate bone sits above the wrist on the pinky side of the hand and is one of eight bones in the hand that forms the wrist joint. A fracture of that bone is often attributed to repeated impact.
Time behind the plate has been mostly split between McCann and Tomas Nido, who have combined to lead the National League in the fewest passed balls allowed. Nido was expected to start in Friday’s series opener and has built a good connection with Max Scherzer, Friday’s starter.
Showalter noted that the team will see how much of the workload can be put upon Mazieka, who has primarily been used as a bench player during his MLB career.
Showalter indicated that Mazieka could start behind the plate as soon as Sunday’s series finale with Seattle, an afternoon game after consecutive night games.
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McCann had been struggling at the plate as the Mets as a team have not been able to get a lot of offensive production from the catcher position this season. McCann was rebounding with hits in three of his last five games to rise his batting average to .196 for the season.
The area in which the Mets will miss McCann the most is with his defense. McCann leads all catchers in MLB in Defensive Runs Saved, a measurement of how many runs an opponent is prevented from scoring because of your defensive play. McCann also has shown his ability to throw runners out in recent games. McCann has caught four runners stealing this season, while no other Mets player has more than one.
“It’s tough,” said Showalter. “I know how much [McCann] likes being on the club and contributing and being a part of it. We’re gonna see him again and he’s gonna be contributing again.”
It will likely be Nido and Mazieka handling catching duties for the Mets for the foreseeable future. Hayden Senger and Francisco Álvarez, the top two catching prospects in the Mets’ farm system are both currently in Double-A Binghamton and are both in need of more time to improve offensively at that level.
Unless the Mets are able to make a move and bring in a catcher from outside of the organization, the impact of McCann’s absence could be an impactful storyline for the Mets, who are in the middle of a 16 straight games without a day off.
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