Possible concussion could sideline Thole
Catcher knocked out of Monday's game after plate collision
PHILADELPHIA -- Mets catcher Josh Thole lay motionless on the ground for several minutes Monday, with manager Terry Collins and trainer Ray Ramirez hovering over him. In those frightening moments, as Collins later recalled, the only words that Thole could muster were: "I'm real dizzy."
The Mets were still evaluating Thole late Monday night, but their starting catcher appears headed to the disabled list with a possible concussion. He suffered the injury while successfully blocking home plate in the eighth inning, when Phillies first baseman Ty Wigginton lowered his shoulder into Thole's face.
"We saw that he got hit in the head," Collins said. "You knew that when you got out there, the chances of him being able to stay in were not very good."
With Phillies runners on second and third base, Freddy Galvis hit a comebacker to the mound, where reliever Bobby Parnell fielded it and fired home to Thole. As Thole blocked the plate, Wigginton turned his shoulder into the right side of the catcher's face, knocking him to the ground. No one on the Mets contested that it was a clean play, but it nonetheless left Thole unable to move for several minutes, before he finally walked off the field under his own power.
After the game, Thole felt dizzy and flushed hot, prompting the Mets to run a battery of tests on him. Thole, 25, was batting .284 in 26 games prior to his injury, starting at catcher most games.
"We're obviously very concerned about Josh and we hope he gets better quickly," said backup Mike Nickeas, who should assume primary catching duties for as long as Thole is sidelined. "It's a play at the plate. You've got to be ready for anything, and I think Josh was. It just kind of clipped him in a tough spot.
"We know the risks as catchers when we're back there. We know certain guys that like doing it, guys that have a reputation. But when a guy slides, I think you're anticipating that he's going to continue sliding. He kind of popped up and got him."
Though the Mets have two other catchers on their active roster, third-stringer Vinny Rottino profiles more as a utility man than an everyday catcher. As a result, the Mets plan to fly either Rob Johnson or Lucas May to Philadelphia in time for Tuesday's game -- with Johnson seeming more likely, assuming he is fully recovered from the left knee sprain that sidelined him for much of April. Because Thole has suffered a head injury, the Mets can place him on Major League Baseball's seven-day concussion-specific disabled list.
"You always err on the side of having enough guys in to catch," assistant general manager John Ricco said. "And if you don't need them, then you send them back."
Earlier Monday, the Mets placed shortstop Ruben Tejada on the DL with a strained right quad. Starting left fielder Jason Bay is also on the DL with a fractured left rib, and center fielder Andres Torres spent most of April sidelined with a strained left calf. In addition, starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey is a week removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
Quickly, injuries are once again piling up for the Mets.
"Hopefully Josh is OK," third baseman David Wright said. "You've got to be careful with those head injuries. He's got a little bit of a headache, he said. I'm sure they'll look after him tonight. He was in good spirits after the game and that's a good sign."