NEW YORK -- It didn't take long for J.T. Realmuto to make an immediate impact.Reinstated from the disabled list hours before first pitch, Realmuto smacked a three-run, opposite-field homer off Masahiro Tanaka in the fifth inning as the Marlins beat the Yankees, 9-1, on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.The home
NEW YORK -- It didn't take long for J.T. Realmuto to make an immediate impact.
Reinstated from the disabled list hours before first pitch, Realmuto smacked a three-run, opposite-field homer off Masahiro Tanaka in the fifth inning as the Marlins beat the Yankees, 9-1, on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.
The home run was Realmuto's first hit of the season -- a liner that carried into the right-field seats. Statcast™ projected the drive at 378 feet, with an exit velocity of 106 mph.
Before the game, Realmuto spoke about hoping to provide a spark. He certainly did, going 2-for-4 with his home run and four RBIs. Behind the plate, he helped guide Jarlin Garcia through five innings of one-hit ball, and the bullpen allowed one run on three hits with eight strikeouts.
"Absolutely, that's what I'm trying to do," Realmuto said of being a lift. "But hopefully sparks last a lot longer than one game. We've got to celebrate this, put it behind us and go to work in Milwaukee."
Off on Wednesday, Miami opens a four-game series on Thursday against the Brewers.
The Marlins activated Realmuto from the 10-day DL, and he batted fifth in the series finale with New York. In the corresponding roster move, Miami optioned Chad Wallach to Triple-A New Orleans.
The three-run homer gave Realmuto four RBIs on the night. In a three-run first inning, he reached on a throwing error by shortstop Didi Gregorius, and he was credited with an RBI on the grounder.
Realmuto opened the season on the DL with a low-back bruise that he sustained against the Yankees in a Spring Training game on March 11.
Manager Don Mattingly said he would ease Realmuto back into playing condition.
"It's good to have him back because it puts guys kind of in their spots," Mattingly said before the game. "When you know J.T. is back and is part of the lineup, it puts less pressure on other guys. Obviously, we've had trouble scoring runs."
Realmuto has been one of the more durable catchers in the Majors the last couple of seasons, appearing in 141 games last year while batting .278/.332/.451 with 17 home runs and 65 RBIs.
Realmuto's presence and leadership should be a big boost for a young team.
"They're fighting, they're battling," Realmuto said. "It's a tough game. Obviously, things haven't gone our way. Guys in the clubhouse are keeping their heads up and staying positive in their daily work. That's all you can really ask for. In times like this, you just kind of ride the storm and get to where you're rolling good."
With Realmuto back, the Marlins anticipate still carrying three catchers. Wallach, who started on Opening Day, can now play regularly at New Orleans. In nine games with Miami, he hit .129 with a double and two RBIs. Veteran John Holaday is the backup backstop.
Tomas Telis, a switch-hitter, is the third catcher and a pinch-hit option. Telis is basically filling the pinch-hit role that Ichiro Suzuki held in 2017.
"For right now, Teli hasn't caught much, but he's a guy off the bench who kind of turns into Ichiro and what he was doing last year, getting pinch-hit at-bats almost every day," Mattingly said.
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.