SF Giants’ Curt Casali looking at lengthy absence after MRI reveals oblique strain

PHOENIX — Giants catcher Curt Casali was, well, curt when asked Tuesday how he was feeling. It was about 24 hours after Casali strained his oblique on a check swing in the Giants’ first game against the Diamondbacks.

“Not good,” the 33-year-old backstop responded, grimacing.

An MRI on Tuesday revealed that Casali had suffered a Grade 2 strain in his right oblique. Casali said he expected to miss three to four weeks, but moderate oblique strains tend to result in absences closer to a month or more.

“It’s something I’ve never had before. I’ve pulled muscles before. I’ve pulled hamstrings before. Not my oblique. It kind of just jolted me and scared the you-know-what out of me. Thankfully Kap came out there and took me out because I probably would’ve tried to get on base there.”

Casali’s absence will test the Giants’ catching depth.

Manager Gabe Kapler admitted that it would be “a challenge.”

“We won so many games last year with Curt behind the plate and plenty this year as well,” Kapler said. “We’re going to miss him.”

Joey Bart rejoined the club in Arizona — Kapler greeted him in the clubhouse with a big hug while telling him “welcome back” — but he wasn’t activated for Tuesday’s game. That left the Giants with Austin Wynns and Yermín Mercedes as their only options behind the plate.

The expectation, though, is that Bart will begin to split duties with Wynns starting in the next couple days.

After working with Giants hitting coaches on his swing and approach at the plate, Bart played seven games at Triple-A and batted .286/.355/.393 with one home run. In 31 plate appearances, he struck out six times and walked twice, an improvement upon his 45% strikeout rate during his first stint in the majors this season.

“I think he was making some progress,” Kapler said. “He was swinging and missing a little bit less. I think it provides a lot of confidence. Does it translate to the major-league level if he’s in the lineup tomorrow? Maybe. But not necessarily. … I think in a perfect world we would’ve given him a little more time.”

Yet, having an option such as Bart who has already worked extensively with the Giants’ pitching staff, is valuable, as opposed to having to groom a new pitch-caller on each of the staff member’s unique arsenals.

“I know he’s ready to catch,” Casali said. “That’s never been a question. … Hopefully he feels good at the plate and can just be comfortable and get in a groove and be himself. … I’ve got Joey’s number. I’ve got Austin’s number. So we’ll be in touch.”

Contributed by local news sources

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