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Wanna Have a Catcher?

Remember that bruise on Kevin Plawecki’s mitt hand from Wednesday night’s game, the one that was declared just a bruise once x-rays were reported as negative? You will when you look for Plawecki behind the plate and see no trace of him. The hand, we learned from the Post’s Mike Puma Friday morning, is broken from the fastball that hit him in the otherwise rousing top of the eighth inning when the Mets were capturing their otherwise rousing eighth win in a row. This shall we say breaking news [1] followed the Mets revealing on Wednesday that Plawecki’s platoon partner Travis d’Arnaud was out with a torn UCL [2] in the elbow he uses for throwing and is probably done for the year.

If you’re keeping score at home, use pencil for “2”.

Exit, once it’s made official, Travin d’Arwecki, and enter, at least temporarily, Tose Nobaton. Or Jomas Lido. However you line them up, the new catching combo is the minor variation on the major league plan. The Tomas Nido half of that you glimpsed when Plawecki left Wednesday night for his x-ray and possibly witnessed sipping coffee last September. Jose Lobaton, presumably aboard an eastbound flight from Vegas, you’ll recall from killing the Mets as a National. Now he gets a chance to make it up to us.

There are also market solutions, one in Miami if the Mets can shake J.T. Realmuto loose from the Marlins’ loose grip on competitiveness. They’ll probably want prospects and stuff for him. Carlos Ruiz is still out there somewhere, I believe. I always liked him despite his being a Phillie, “always” going back some years, which I suppose is an issue. Ruiz is 39, but played solid defense when he was 38 in Seattle. Wasn’t the very recently DFA’d Miguel Montero considered hot stuff fairly lately? Jonathan Lucroy was an ideal free agent target over the winter, but he went to Oakland. That doesn’t help, I realize, but I just wanted to mention that.

The d’Arnaud-Plawecki platoon, conceived from strong 2017 finishes and born of 2018 budgetary finagling, proved an adequate eleven-game answer as long as something absurd like serious injuries to two catchers didn’t materialize in a ten-minute span. Chalk it up to the Mets amid their best start ever to reserve a roster spot for absurdity.

Catchers, huh? We all know the riff on the first Met selected in the expansion draft. Casey Stengel said the Mets went for Hobie Landrith because without a catcher, you’re gonna have a lot of passed balls.

Great line. And apparently timeless.

The Mets have persevered through stuff like this before. Deprived of the services of Jerry Grote in the middle of 1973, they reached down to Double-A Memphis and elevated Ron Hodges. Hodges would make such an impression en route to the World Series that he fastened himself to the depth chart for a dozen seasons. Hodges was still a Met when John Stearns went down for most of two years between 1982 and 1984, a span by the end of which the Mets were again, at last, serious pennant contenders, just as they were in 1973. Nido is up from Double-A, too.

Precedent can take on whatever significance you choose. The Mets were without Todd Hundley entering 1998 and muddled through nearly two months without a legitimate starting catcher. Hell, they more than muddled. They played better than .500 ball with a mélange of Spehr, Castillo, Pratt, Tatum and Wilkins crouching and putting down fingers. The Mets went 23-20 through May 21 sans Hundley; you could look it up. Oh, then, on May 22, they got Piazza and improved exponentially. We’re probably not gonna be able to get a postmodern Piazza, but we also don’t need to improve exponentially.

I’m running out of heartening examples of catchers going down and other catchers stepping up and the Mets doing fine. Maybe Nido is reincarnated Ron Hodges and 2018 adds a charming footnote to its legend already in progress. Maybe Realmuto flies the same South Florida fire sale shuttle to LaGuardia that once transported ol’ No. 31 out of teal purgatory. Perhaps Phil Evans has gotten really good at his emergency skill set since being sent down. He’s an emergency catcher and we seem to have a bit of a catching emergency.

Anything is possible, including us being 10-1. As Mets fan Dan Rather [3] might advise, courage. Meanwhile, best wishes Travin. May you both heal soon for everybody’s sake.

UPDATE: Additional reports indicate Plawecki has a hairline fracture [4] and may not be out more than three weeks. This may be where we see how the new Met injury protocols perform versus the old club standard of magical thinking. Also, Johnny Monell seems to have come marching home, or at least to Las Vegas. Multiple sources report our 2015 backup-backup catcher has signed anew with the organization.