J.T. Realmuto making progress in recovery from fractured thumb


J.T. Realmuto, who is dealing with a fractured right thumb, had his cast removed Thursday and is now in what manager Joe Girardi referred to as a "beautiful splint." 

Realmuto won't resume throwing or hitting just yet but it's the next step on his road to recovery. 

"They can do more aggressive treatment and strengthening of the hand," Girardi said of the change from cast to splint. "You're in a cast for two weeks, you're going to lose some strength. He is on track for us. This was a good sign. We’ll just have to see how the rehab continues to go. ... But to get the cast off is a really good sign."

Realmuto signed his five-year, $115.5 million contract in late January. Three weeks later, his thumb was broken when he tried to block a ball in the dirt during a bullpen session. Realmuto was not worried about the injury in the days after it occurred, saying he was confident he'd be ready by opening day but wouldn't rush things just to be in the lineup on April 1.

“We’re going to take our time with it because if I have to miss the first three days of the season, we’d rather do that than absolutely rush back and have something linger a little longer,” he said on Feb. 18.

Harper's back

Bryce Harper, who dealt with a back injury late last season, played in his first game as the DH Friday and homered in his first at-bat. He said he expects to play Sunday in Tampa against the Yankees and could be in the field late next week. The back issue affected his throwing most and he is on a throwing program, having worked up to 140 feet.

"I’ll probably throw to bases tomorrow, Tuesday or Wednesday," Harper said. "Once I do that and feel good about it ... I’m trying to re-learn my throwing motion, too. Arm feels good, that action feels fine, back feels fine. But there were a couple things in my legs that were causing me to have a little bit of pain in my back as well.

"Hopefully should be ready to go late next week to get in the field and play the game."

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