Austin Nola fractures finger, OD status TBD

March 15th, 2021

Padres catcher has a fractured middle finger on his left hand, manager Jayce Tingler announced on Sunday, calling Nola's status for Opening Day into question.

Nola sustained the injury while catching a foul tip on Saturday, though he finished the game. Afterward, the pain intensified, and Nola was evaluated by team doctors before being diagnosed with the fracture. The Padres have not put a timetable on his potential return.

"We need to wait and see how he responds," Tingler said. "Will he be ready for Opening Day? I don't know. I know he's extremely tough. It wouldn't surprise me if he's ready sooner rather than later, but we're not going to know much until he gets some treatment on it."

No doubt, it's a tough blow for the Padres, who -- for the first time in years -- seemed poised to enter the regular season with a settled catching situation. Nola was the centerpiece of a seven-player trade with Seattle at the Trade Deadline last August. He batted .273/.353/.472 between Seattle and San Diego in 2020 while expertly backstopping a beleaguered Padres pitching staff down the stretch.

If Nola misses time during the regular season, it would almost certainly mean increased opportunity for Victor Caratini and Luis Campusano.

"We've got a lot of confidence in our catchers," Tingler said. " Should be a nice time for those guys to really find some rhythm and timing and get going."

Caratini arrived in the deal that brought Yu Darvish to San Diego in December and was poised to serve as Nola's backup, as well as Darvish's personal catcher. Now, Caratini could play a starting role, with the 22-year-old Campusano backing him up.

Campusano, the Padres' No. 3 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, is hitting .313/.421/.438 this spring. He received a brief big league callup last September and homered in his only game. The Padres are enamored with Campusano’s potential, but -- as young catchers go -- his work behind the plate could use a bit of refinement.

As for Nola’s recovery, Tingler said he would be re-evaluated later in the week to get a better idea of the extent of the injury.

“We’re going to give it a couple days of treatment, see how quickly it can heal up and go from there,” Tingler said.

Nola’s injury is the latest in an unfortunate series of recent setbacks for the Padres. Center fielder Trent Grisham sustained a hamstring strain on Thursday, and right fielder Wil Myers has been out of the lineup since Friday because of right knee inflammation. On Sunday, infielder Ha-Seong Kim was scratched because of what Tingler termed “aches and pains.” (He wouldn’t elaborate, other than to say it’s not COVID-19 related.)

The Padres remain fairly confident that those three ailments won’t affect their roster planning later this month. The Opening Day status of Nola, however, is much less clear.

Worth noting

Yu Darvish continued his dominant Spring Training on Sunday with three hitless frames in the Padres' 10-4 victory over the Reds. Darvish struck out three and now has seven K's across five innings, while allowing just two baserunners.

"All in all, I thought I did pretty well; was particularly working on the splitter and changeup," Darvish said through an interpreter. "That came out pretty good as well. So I'm pretty happy about today's outing."

Nick Tanielu, Eguy Rosario and Pedro Florimón all went deep Sunday, but it was Florimón's dinger that stole the show. He launched Cam Bedrosian's offering beyond the right-field seats at Goodyear Ballpark.

• Padres No. 5 prospect Ryan Weathers -- who is vying for a roster spot as either the team's fifth starter or a long man out of the bullpen -- allowed two runs across three innings, his longest outing of the spring.