Rangers down an All-Star as Heim (wrist) lands on IL

July 29th, 2023

SAN DIEGO -- All-Star catcher landed on the injured list on Friday because of a left wrist tendon strain. 

Heim left the Rangers’ matchup against the Astros on Wednesday with left wrist soreness after swinging and missing at a curveball from Framber Valdez in the fourth inning.

“I just took a normal swing and just felt a little pop when I finished,” Heim said. “It was kind of weird, I didn't hurt initially. I tried to take a practice swing, and it was pretty painful. So then that's when the trainers came out. Obviously, it wasn't a great situation.”

On Friday, Heim met with a doctor and underwent further scans on the wrist, which is now wrapped in a splint. Heim is expected to rest and rehab for two to three weeks before being reevaluated. 

“I’m just going to rest and try to get the inflammation out of there,” Heim said. “Then it becomes a pain management issue. I'm going to do everything I can get back out on the field with these guys. … Pretty much if I can handle the pain, then I'm going to be out there. I like to think I have a high tolerance for pain. So I'm going to trust the training staff and do everything we can to get back up.”

The doctors and Heim did not rule out an eventual surgery, but whether that’s during the season or during the offseason has yet to be determined and likely depends on how he progresses.

Heim was noticeably upset to miss time during this Rangers run, as they continue to fight to hold onto the top spot in the AL West. 

“There's definitely a lot of emotions that go into it,” he said. “It's disappointing that I’m missing the series, and you're thinking about the worst-case scenarios and missing the whole year. It's tough to swallow, but it's part of the sport and something we’ve got to deal with. Right now, I'm hopeful that I'll be back with these guys and make a long playoff run.” 

Heim has been a vital part of the Rangers’ success this season. He leads all American League catchers in innings behind the plate, while also being one of the most productive offensive catchers in the game, He has a slash line of .280/.337/.479 and started behind the plate in 80 of Texas' first 103 games. 

“We'd like better news, but I guess it could have been worse,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “You hate to see this happen to your starting catcher, your All-Star catcher. But that’s baseball, unfortunately, and now we have to move on. You've heard me say this many times: You don't have a choice. We're hoping for two to three weeks, if he can tolerate the pain or it's workable. Until then, we’ll keep moving here.”

With Heim out, and will split reps behind the plate. Texas acquired veteran catcher from San Diego on Friday and assigned him to Triple-A Round Rock. 

Garver was an AL Silver Slugger Award winner with the Twins in 2019 but has struggled with various injuries since. The Rangers traded for him during Spring Training in ’22, but he had played only 87 games for them entering Friday.

Huff is a former Top 100 prospect who has slashed .257/.319/.443 in his first 63 big league games across three seasons. 

“It’s going to be an opportunity to let Sam grow more than he’s already grown and also let Mitch go,” said Rangers catching coach Bobby Wilson. “Since we've had Mitch, we haven't really had the opportunity to just let him go and play. We, as a coaching staff, have to be better and make sure Sam's prepared and make sure Mitch is ready to go. I look at it as not a challenge, but an opportunity.”