The Marlins will hold out catcher J.T. Realmuto for the next few spring games, but the team is confident he will be ready to return before Opening Day.
Realmuto suffered a lower back bruise on Sunday when he collided with New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres while running back to the bag on a pickoff attempt.
“He’s still sore so we’ll just make sure to get that out of there and he’ll get back to activity,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “I don’t think it’s anything serious. They’ve ruled all that out. We just want to make sure he’s not compensating in any way and jeopardize hurting something else.”
Realmuto, who has 5 hits in 22 at-bats — including a home run this spring, also suffered a left knee bruise that forced him to miss two games prior to Sunday’s game.
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Realmuto, one of the most athletic catchers in baseball, put up career numbers in home runs (17) and RBI (65) and has 302 over the past two seasons, including 62 doubles and five triples.
Assuming Realmuto’s back soreness doesn’t cause him to miss an extended amount of time, Mattingly said he was confident he would get his timing down at the plate to be ready for the season.
“I don’t worry about J.T. from the standpoint of him being ready to go,” Mattingly said. “It’s more if this thing would linger a week of 10 days then it would be different, but I don’t think that’s the case.”
The Marlins’ other potential options at catcher should the need arise include Tomas Telis, who hit .240 with three triples and nine RBI in 104 at-bats last season.
“Telis is a guy that continues to improve behind the plate in terms of his blocking, his throwing and receiving,” Mattingly said. “He’s down the road a little bit as far as our system and what we’re trying to get our catchers to do.”
There’s also Chad Wallach, who played his first six major-league games last season with the Reds. The Marlins also have non-roster invitee Bryan Holaday in camp, and Mattingly mentioned Austin Nola, who will likely start the season at Triple-A. Holaday has played 164 games in six seasons combined with the Tigers, Rangers and Red Sox.
FINDING HIS RHYTHM
Shortstop JT Riddle said he is hoping to start playing in minor-league games by Saturday as he continues to rehab from a shoulder surgery he underwent last August.
Riddle has faced live pitching on the back fields in Jupiter and in games so far, but has yet to play on defense to test the shoulder.
It’s uncertain whether Riddle, who has not played in a major league game since July 19, will be ready for Opening Day on March 29 when the Marlins open the regular season at home against the Chicago Cubs.
“I think it’s more so focusing on getting ready, kind of taking it day by day,” Riddle said. “There’s no rush. The last thing I want to do is rush back and play two games and then be hurt again. I want to be 100 percent, full go on the 29th, not 80 percent and then cost the team if something happens diving in the hole when I can’t get back up and throw the ball.”
Riddle, 26, hit .250 with three home runs, 13 doubles and 31 RBI in 228 at-bats (70 games) before his rookie season was cut short by the injury.
If Riddle isn’t ready, the favorite to start the season at shortstop remains Miguel Rojas, who played the position in 69 games for the Marlins last season.
“It’s just repetition back there,” Riddle said. “Not facing a pitcher [in a game] since the end of July is a long time and not being able to hit in the offseason, I’m just trying to get as many at-bats as I can and try to get comfortable and get my rhythm and timing back. It’s coming good and everything is feeling good so I just have to get the repetitions.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ Justin Bour (back spasms) participated fully in team workouts, but was a late scratch from the lineup as the team chose to give him another day of rest.
▪ Pitcher Elieser Hernandez will miss his next scheduled start on Wednesday after having a wisdom tooth removed on Monday.
▪ Wednesday: Marlins RHP Dan Straily vs. New York Mets LHP Steven Matz, 1:05 p.m., Jupiter.
▪ Thursday: Marlins TBA vs. New York Mets TBA, 1:10 p.m., Port St. Lucie.