D-backs lose 16th straight; Kelly breaks wrist

June 20th, 2021

PHOENIX -- The D-backs managed to avoid being no-hit by Walker Buehler on Saturday night, but they suffered a pair of losses nonetheless, one that hurts (literally) more than the other.

David Peralta broke up Buehler's no-hit bid with a solid single to center to open the eighth inning, but the D-backs’ late rally came up well short as they fell to the Dodgers, 9-3.

It was the 16th straight loss for the reeling D-backs, who also will be without the services of , as the starting catcher suffered a fractured right wrist in the second inning when he was hit by a Buehler fastball.

The loss stings, as it is the 30th in the D-backs’ last 32 games, but losing Kelly, who has been one of their best performers this year, really hurts.

"He was catching at a very high level," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "He was a very consistent offensive player for us. It’s nothing you ever want to see or have to talk about postgame, where your starting catcher has a wrist fracture."

Kelly was acquired by the D-backs prior to the 2019 season from the Cardinals as part of the return for Paul Goldschmidt. After an uneven '19, Kelly struggled to find his rhythm during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

The 26-year-old spent last offseason trying to simplify his mechanics at the plate as well as working on the mental game.

The results in both areas have been noticeable, as he has posted an .845 OPS and he was able to handle the emotional ups and downs of the season.

That mental resilience will be tested again now with the injury.

"You never want to be hurt," Kelly said. "I’ve learned a lot about myself, learned a lot through the struggles, through the good times, through being hurt. There’s something to learn every day. I don’t know how long it’s going to be, but I’m going to take this time to reflect and be the best player, teammate, person I can be. There’s things to look forward to."

Kelly was visibly in pain when the 96 mph fastball from Buehler caught him on the outside of his wrist. He convinced Lovullo to leave him in the game to run the bases. At the end of the inning, he was reexamined and stayed in to catch the top of the third.

"Initially, getting hit, I was pretty -- I was a little worried about the wrist," Kelly said. "Nick Ahmed and guys in the past have got hit up there, and it’s scary stuff. I had the initial movement. I had the strength and everything there. Just as time went on, it kept getting worse and worse. I felt like it was time to get it checked out."

Kelly will get more imaging done and meet with hand specialist Don Sheridan to determine whether there is any other damage in the wrist. Until that time, it's fruitless to speculate on a timeline, but there's little doubt the D-backs will have to make do without him for a while.

Lovullo said that the organization was still deciding who to call up to replace Kelly. Two candidates would seem to be Daulton Varsho and Bryan Holaday.

"We have good internal candidates," Lovullo said. "We’ll manage it. We’ll have the opportunity to continue to evaluate and watch other guys get some innings behind the plate and get a chance to grow and learn. We’ve got to find a way to have that next-up mentality and fight through the frustration of what happened and dial it in [Sunday] at 1 o’clock."