To replenish the position, the Braves recalled promising rookie William Contreras from the alternate training site at Gwinnett and added veteran Jeff Mathis to the roster. Contreras, 23, started at catcher in Sunday afternoon’s 7-2 loss against Toronto in Dunedin, Fla., and will get most of the playing time at the position for now.
Braves catcher William Contreras follows through on a run-scoring single against the Toronto Blue Jays during the second inning Sunday, May 2, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (Mike Carlson/AP)
Credit: Mike Carlson
Credit: Mike Carlson
D’Arnaud’s injury occurred in the sixth inning of Saturday’s game when he was applying a tag at the plate.
“He jammed his thumb, screwed it up,” Snitker said after that game. “... It’s not good.”
Losing d’Arnaud, a Silver Slugger Award winner last year, for an extended period is a significant setback for the Braves.
“He means so much to this team, without a doubt, and a lot to myself as well,” pitcher Ian Anderson said Sunday. “We’ve had a good thing going. It’s going to be tough, definitely. He’s such a good leader back there and calls a great game, so there will be some adjustment there.”
Contreras made his big-league debut last season, playing in four games and getting four hits in 10 at-bats. He had an RBI single in his first at-bat in Sunday’s game, finishing the day 1-for-3 and drawing a walk.
“It’s really sad news to hear what happened to Travis,” Contreras said through an interpreter. “It’s really unfortunate for him, for the team, all of us, especially someone we all lean on. But we’re here to support each other and back each other up. Now Travis has gone down, so it’s my turn to step up.
“Hopefully I can help and contribute to the team and handle the pitching staff well. With all that said, we’re definitely going to miss Travis.”
Contreras, the younger brother of Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, is being forced into a starting big-league role ahead of the Braves’ ideal timetable for him.
“Obviously, I think a year in Triple-A would be perfect (for him) in a perfect world,” Snitker said. “This is not a perfect world,. He’s going to get some very valuable on the-job training. He has matured a lot. I thought he did a good job of handling himself (in Sunday’s game).
“He’s a kid with skills and tools, and we’re just going to have to be patient with him and work with him, because he’s going to have to do the bulk of the catching.”
The Braves signed Mathis, 38, a 16-year big-league veteran, to a minor-league contract in late March. A career .194 hitter long known for his defense, he has played for the Los Angeles Angels, Toronto Blue Jays, Miami Marlins, Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers. He played last season with Texas and spent spring training this year with Philadelphia.
Mathis has thrown out 28% of base-stealers in his career and won the “Fielding Bible Award” as MLB’s top defensive catcher in 2018 with Arizona.
“He’ll do a good job backing up (Contreras) ... with his experience,” Snitker said.