Realmuto 'very confident' he'll be ready for OD
Marlins backstop plays catch for 1st time since injury; swinging bat is next
JUPITER, Fla. -- Despite missing more than a week with a bruised lower back, Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto remains upbeat that he will be ready for Opening Day.
Realmuto played catch on Monday morning for the first time since suffering a lower back contusion on March 11, and he is hopeful to start swinging the bat in the upcoming days.
"I'll be ready for Opening Day," Realmuto said on Monday morning. "I'm very confident, yes."
The Marlins open on March 29 against the Cubs at Marlins Park.
"He was able to work out [Sunday], rode the bike," manager Don Mattingly said. "He worked out like 45 minutes, doing stuff in here. He's good today. Obviously, we're seeing [him play catch]. We're getting started."
Realmuto threw at 90 feet on Monday. Miami is hoping that he will get at-bats by the end of the week.
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"We'll do everything that we can to give him as many at-bats as he needs," Mattingly said. "But first, we've got to get him to that point. We're still going that way."
Realmuto says the recovery has been a little slower than he had hoped, but the missed playing time can be made up by getting extra at-bats on back fields in Minor League games.
"It's definitely getting better," Realmuto said. "There's still certain movements I make that are a little painful, but it's 100 percent better than it was yesterday. It's getting better, a little slower than I want it to, but it's getting better."
Realmuto was shaken up in a Grapefruit League game against the Yankees. While on second base, he was picked off by catcher Gary Sanchez. On the play, second baseman Gleyber Torres' knee caught a bone near Realmuto's spine, creating a bone bruise.
"That's what it was," Realmuto said. "I don't think it was the twisting at all. It was the contact. … I guess they got me in the perfect spot."
Tomas Telis and Chad Wallach are the other two catchers in camp on the Marlins' 40-man roster.
Before the collision, Realmuto had 22 at-bats in Spring Training. The club breaks camp on Sunday.
Realmuto has emerged as one of the top and most durable catchers in the game over the past couple of seasons. He played in 141 games last year, and he had a slash line of .278/.332/.451 with 17 home runs and 65 RBIs.
"As long as it keeps getting better every day, I should be [close to] playing baseball," Realmuto said. "It's all pain tolerance. As soon as my back is good enough to play, then I'll be getting as many at-bats as I can back there, and get some games in here as well. As soon as my back feels good, I'll be able to ramp it up."