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Realmuto placed on IL, to undergo right knee surgery

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BOSTON — After battling right knee pain off and on for the past month, Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto will undergo right knee meniscectomy surgery on Wednesday in Philadelphia.

The extent of the injury was not immediately clear, though it’s worth noting the team labeled Realmuto’s injury as “right knee pain” as opposed to calling it something more severe such as a tear. Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is expected to address the media regarding Realmuto prior to Tuesday night’s series opener against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Realmuto was placed on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Monday, and fellow catcher Rafael Marchán was recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to take his place on the active roster.

Realmuto first missed time with a knee issue last month, when he sat out three straight games from May 12-14. He returned to the lineup on May 15, though manager Rob Thomson had been working in more scheduled rest for Realmuto than usual.

The three-time All-Star catcher had seemingly avoided any further issues until Sunday’s series finale against the Mets in London when he exited for a pinch-runner in the bottom of the ninth.

With the exact nature of Realmuto’s surgery remaining unclear at this point, there’s no way to put a timetable on his expected absence. That said, former teammate Rhys Hoskins underwent a meniscectomy in December 2022 after dealing with lingering knee pain down the stretch. He was given a timetable of four to six weeks for recovery and reported to camp without any limitations 2 1/2 months later, though of course, there’s no way to tell how much time he would have missed since that procedure came during the offseason.

The Phillies (45-20) entered Tuesday with a nine-game lead over the Braves in the National League East and a five-game edge over the Dodgers for the best record in the NL.

Realmuto has been not only one of the best, but most durable catchers since entering the Majors. He has caught 9,315 2/3 innings since 2015 — his first full season in MLB. That’s 1,547 1/3 more than any other catcher during that span.

Even since joining the Phillies in 2019, Realmuto’s 5,130 2/3 innings behind the plate are well ahead of the second-most (Martín Maldonado, 4,492 2/3). Realmuto also leads all catchers with 20.6 bWAR during that span. Routinely posting one of the best pop times across the Majors, per Statcast, Realmuto has thrown out 99 attempted basestealers since joining the Phils — 20 more than any other catcher.

Without Realmuto, the Phillies’ catching depth will certainly be tested in the coming weeks. For now, they will turn to backup catcher Garrett Stubbs and Marchán to fill the void.

Stubbs entered Tuesday slashing .173/.271/.192 in 59 plate appearances this season, though the Phillies are 10-4 in his 14 starts this season. He’s a career .213 hitter with a .605 OPS.

As for Marchán, the 25-year-old is slashing .233/.382/.395 in 13 games between Lehigh Valley and Single-A Clearwater this season. He made his season debut on May 14 after missing the start of the season due to lower back pain.

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