The Diamondbacks lost more than a game Sunday, they lost catcher Henry Blanco for an extended period because of a sprained left thumb.
Blanco suffered the injury when he tagged John Mayberry Jr. on a close play at the plate in the eighth inning of a 5-4 loss to Philadelphia, as Mayberry attempted to score the tying run from second base after an infield single by Domonic Brown and a throwing error by David Hernandez. Replays indicated that Mayberry appeared to be out, but home plate umpire Derryl Cousins did not see it that way.
Blanco left the game immediately after the play and was placed on the disabled list Monday. He will see D-backs’ orthopedist Dr. Don Sheridan in Phoenix on Tuesday, manager Kirk Gibson said.
The D-backs signed free agent Wil Nieves to back up starter Miguel Montero. Nieves joined the team in Pittsburgh for the start of a four-game series Monday night
“Happy for another chapter in my life, my career. They are in a great position. I want to help them any way I can,” Nieves said.
“I need to learn the pitchers and what they like to throw, but that will come with me going to the bullpen and talking to them and catching them. Communication,” Nieves said.
“He has experience,” Gibson said. “The evaluators we have were on it. Part of my challenge is to bring him up to speed.”
Nieves, who has spent parts of nine years in the major leagues, became a free agent Aug. 3 after rejecting an outright assignment from Colorado, where he hit .298 with one home run and five RBI in 16 games this season.
“It was frustrating because it was happening to me again,” Nieves, who has played pro basebal for 17 saeasons, said of the Rockies’ decision to turn him loose. “Maybe that was the best for me. Maybe this is the best for me right now.”
Blanco was hitting .188 with one home run and seven RBI in 64 at-bats, but his greater value was as a clubhouse presence and mentor.
Nieves broke into the majors with San Diego in 2002, when Kevin Towers was the general manager there. He is a .226 career hitter with six homers and 78 RBI while playing for five different teams. He hit .259 with one homer and 26 RBI with Washington in 2009, his most productive major league season. He played a career-high 72 games that season.
Hernandez, who was struck on the right leg by Brown’s grounder on the play that resulted in Blanco’s injury, is not expected to miss any time. Hernandez left the Philadelphia game one batter later, after giving up an infield single and throwing a wild pitch.
“We’re going to see how he moves out there,” Gibson said.