Catcher Francisco Alvarez set to take batting practice this weekend for first time since thumb surgery

Francisco Alvarez Mets
Francisco Alvarez
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

As the Mets look to keep their season alive going into June, the team has received some good news about injured slugging catcher Francisco Alvarez. The 22-year-old catcher is slated to take batting practice this weekend for the first time since receiving surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb on April 23.

The Mets have certainly missed the dynamic power that Alvarez brings over his nearly five weeks of absence. After a 25-homer campaign in 2023, the former number-one prospect in all of baseball was looking to build on that and improve himself more offensively and defensively. He got off to a hot start to the 2024 season, putting up a .293/.326/.463 slash line through the first two weeks. However, he had cooled in the last four games before the injury, with just one hit in his last 14 at-bats prior to getting hurt trying to keep himself up advancing to second base on a throwing error. 

When Alvarez received the diagnosis of a torn ligament in his thumb, the Mets said the expected recovery time would be six to eight weeks. Based on the timeline and his recovery progress so far, he is on track to return to the team in the middle of June. According to manager Carlos Mendoza, Alvarez has already been catching and swinging.

“He’s doing a lot more nowadays,” Mendoza said. “He’s already catching, swinging the bat, hitting off a tee and hitting soft toss. He’s progressing well.”

Since Alvarez suffered the injury on April 20, the Mets catching has mostly been a black hole in the lineup. Omar Narvaez, who was expected to get the bulk of catching duties after the injury, has played his way out of the starting lineup, posting an abysmal slash line of .155/.183/.190. He has also struggled mightily defensively, allowing 32 stolen bases and being credited with just one caught stealing, which occurred on a pickoff attempt by the pitcher.

Veteran catcher Tomas Nido, who was called up to replace Alvarez on the roster, has usurped Narvaez as the team’s primary catcher. While he never has brought much to the table offensively throughout his MLB career, Nido has held his own this year, batting .246 in 61 at-bats, albeit with just a .270 on-base percentage and .361 slugging percentage. He has also helped to slow the opposing running game down, throwing out five runners in 22 stolen base attempts.

Narvaez, who signed a two-year $15 million contract with the Mets in the 2022-23 offseason, appears to be the most likely candidate to be designated for assignment upon Alvarez’s return. Narvaez has struggled during his Mets tenure, putting up a slash line of .194/.254/.263, with two home runs and 11 RBI in 186 at-bats across 73 games. He also missed two months last season due to a calf strain. 

With a 21-28 record and in fourth place in the National League East, the Mets hope to right the ship and improve in the coming weeks so that they are in the playoff mix by the time Alvarez returns. The team has lost 14 of its last 20 games, but is still only 3.5 games out of the final wildcard spot. However, there are six teams standing between them and that playoff spot. 

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