Phillies activate J.T. Realmuto after catcher misses two weeks with hand injury


The Philadelphia Phillies activated catcher J.T. Realmuto on Saturday, ahead of their contest against the Tampa Bay Rays. In a corresponding move, the Phillies demoted backstop Rafael Marchan to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Realmuto, 30, had been sidelined by a hand injury since May 15. Prior to going on the shelf, he was off to an outstanding start to the season. In 35 games, Realmuto had hit .294/.400/.486 (148 OPS+) with four home runs and 17 runs batted in. 

The Phillies, who entered Saturday with a 25-26 record on the season, were 4-7 during Realmuto’s absence. Manager Joe Girardi leaned on veteran backup Andrew Knapp, mixing in the youngster Marchan for three starts. It didn’t make much difference, as neither could match Realmuto’s potency at the dish: Knapp entered Saturday with a .389 OPS on the season, while Marchan heads to the minors with a .593 mark (albeit in only 14 plate appearances).

Realmuto, one of last offseason’s biggest-name free agents, rejoined the Phillies on a five-year contract worth more than $115 million. Philadelphia had originally acquired Realmuto as part of a four-player trade in February 2019. That deal sent pitchers Sixto Sánchez and Will Stewart, as well as catcher Jorge Alfaro, to the Miami Marlins.

Realmuto had been one of four notable Phillies hitters on the injured list, alongside outfielder Bryce Harper (forearm contusion), shortstop Didi Gregorius (elbow impingement, and utility player Scott Kingery (concussion). 

Coming into play on Saturday, the Phillies were tied with the Atlanta Braves for second place in the National League East, 2 1/2 games behind the New York Mets. The NL East as a whole is the tightest division in MLB, with all five teams separated by four games or fewer. 

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