Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto homered in his first Grapefruit League at-bat of the spring on Tuesday night. Afterward, he said he expected to be a go for opening day next week.
Wednesday morning brings another sign that Realmuto has fully recovered from the broken right thumb he suffered in mid-February.
Veteran catcher Jeff Mathis exercised the out in his minor-league contract on Wednesday. Mathis had been considered a possibility to make the team as a second catcher if Realmuto needed to open the season on the injured list.
Mathis, who will turn 38 next week, has had a solid 16-year career while serving mostly as a backup for five clubs. He’s a defense-first guy committed to building bonds with a pitching staff and those are qualities teams look for in a reserve catcher.
Mathis appeared in 10 games with the Phils this spring and had six hits, including a homer, in 29 at-bats. He struck out 14 times.
Realmuto suffered a fractured right thumb while catching a bullpen session in the days before camp officially opened. The Phillies had signed Mathis as depth prior to that, but he had the right to opt out of his deal if he sensed he was not going to make the club.
The Phillies have three catchers on their 40-man roster: Realmuto, backup Andrew Knapp and youngster Rafael Marchan. Marchan missed significant time in camp with a hamstring injury but has resumed activity.
It was not immediately clear what Mathis’ next move would be. It's possible he could end up with another club.
A number of other players on minor-league deals can opt out of their contracts Wednesday, including bullpen candidates Tony Watson, Hector Rondon and Brandon Kintzler. Stay tuned.