MIAMI -- Unable to keep Travis d'Arnaud healthy for the first five years of his big league career, the Mets had hoped they discovered the solution last August, when they began using d'Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki in a timeshare. Both catchers stayed healthy and productive down the stretch and into
MIAMI -- Unable to keep Travis d'Arnaud healthy for the first five years of his big league career, the Mets had hoped they discovered the solution last August, when they began using d'Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki in a timeshare. Both catchers stayed healthy and productive down the stretch and into Spring Training. But another potentially serious injury for d'Arnaud has changed the equation.
The Mets placed d'Arnaud on the disabled list on Wednesday with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The team will determine in the next several days if d'Arnaud, 29, needs Tommy John surgery, which would end his season.
To replace d'Arnaud on the active roster, the Mets recalled 11th-ranked prospect Tomas Nido from Double-A Binghamton.
"That's a long road if he goes the surgery route," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. "Anytime anybody has to go through that, that's tough."
Starting four of the Mets' first 10 games behind the plate, d'Arnaud went 3-for-15 (.200) with a home run and three RBIs, but he allowed seven stolen bases without catching a single runner. (The only caught stealing on his ledger came as a result of a pitcher pickoff throw to first base). d'Arnaud first alerted the Mets to his elbow discomfort on Tuesday, according to Callaway, then traveled to New York for an examination at the Hospital for Special Surgery. An MRI taken there on Wednesday morning revealed the UCL tear.
"Just getting the ball [to second base] seemed to be an issue early in the season," Callaway said. "So there was some concern there. I hate that it wound up being this."
Since debuting in 2013, d'Arnaud has sustained a lengthy string of injuries, spending time on the DL with a bone bruise in his right wrist, a strain in his right rotator cuff, a hyperextended left elbow, a broken finger and a concussion. Once considered the Mets' catcher of the future (and the key prospect in the R.A. Dickey trade that also netted the Mets Noah Syndergaard), d'Arnaud averaged just 91 games per year in his first four full big league seasons.
Yet d'Arnaud also played a key role at times, batting .268 with 12 home runs and an .825 OPS in 2015, with three additional homers in 14 postseason games that year.
In d'Arnaud's absence, the Mets will place more responsibility on Plawecki, 27, who is batting .158/.393/.200 in seven games. Given ample opportunities in the past due to d'Arnaud's injury history, Plawecki did not make much of them until he hit .303/.411/.474 in his final 27 games last year, splitting time with d'Arnaud. That was enough to earn him additional playing time heading into this season.
Plawecki departed Wednesday's 4-1 victory over the Marlins in the eighth inning after taking a 98-mph Tayron Guerrero fastball off his left hand, but X-rays were negative, and he doesn't expect to miss any time.
"Nothing's going to change for me mentally," said Plawecki, who was a groomsman at d'Arnaud's wedding this winter. "Preparation-wise, it will be the same. Obviously, a tough loss for all of us, losing a brother like that, Travis and I being pretty close and everything. I feel bad for him. But at the same time, you've got to keep moving and keep working and keep this thing going."
Plawecki will receive support from Nido, a strong defender who was batting .278/.350/.389 with two doubles and five RBIs in five games for Binghamton. Mostly due to logistics, the Mets opted to recall Nido instead of veteran Jose Lobaton, whom the team signed in December to provide organizational depth. Assistant general manager John Ricco said Lobaton could also factor into New York's short-term plans.
Mets officials will huddle in New York this week to determine longer-term options, Ricco said, in the event that d'Arnaud opts for surgery. Ricco did not reject the possibility of a trade, though a sampling of evaluators around baseball offered skepticism that the Mets will pursue a prominent bat, such as Miami's J.T. Realmuto or Oakland's Jonathan Lucroy. More likely, one said, the Mets may acquire an inexpensive backup.
"We'll discuss short-term, long-term [possibilities]," Ricco said. "We have a lot of faith in Kevin, and two guys in Tomas and Jose that we got just for this reason. … Kevin is more than ready for this challenge. It's unfortunate the way it happened, but it's certainly an opportunity for him."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.