Though his DL stay must last at least seven days, Thole may miss significantly more time than that after his collision Monday with Phillies first baseman Ty Wigginton. General manager Sandy Alderson said Tuesday that Thole will not perform any athletic activities for at least seven days, after which point the Mets will reevaluate his condition.
"Based on what we know now, I don't expect him back after seven," Alderson said, referring to Thole's history of multiple concussions earlier in his professional career."
Thole ultimately walked off the field under his own power Monday after several motionless minutes on the ground, but he experienced dizziness and hot flashes after the game. In good spirits the next day, Thole was still experiencing dizziness, prompting the Mets to send him back to New York for further examination.
Those tests revealed his concussion. Major League Baseball instituted a seven-day DL last year for head injuries, which nearly a dozen players have used since its inception. The Mets can keep Thole on that list until he is ready to return to active duty.
"It seems like it's the way it has been here for a while -- you lose key guys," manager Terry Collins said of the recent run of injuries afflicting the Mets. "No matter who sits in this chair, you've got to put somebody else in there and hope guys pick up the slack."
That somebody will initially be Mike Nickeas, who hit a key double Monday in Thole's stead. But Johnson, an MLB veteran who was hitting .291 with two home runs in 15 games for Triple-A Buffalo, will also receive significant playing time. Even before knowing the full scope of Thole's injury, Collins was making plans to insert Johnson into the lineup Wednesday against Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee.
The hope is that Johnson and Nickeas can at least approach the production of Thole, who has reached base safely in all but three of his 26 games this season. Though the catcher had cooled somewhat after a torrid start, Thole was batting .284 with a .356 on-base percentage prior to his injury.
Thole's greatest lament, Collins said, was that he did not keep his catcher's mask on in preparation for the collision with Wigginton. But Collins and others around the team viewed the injury as an unavoidable occupational hazard.
"We've all been crushed," said Nickeas, one of Thole's close friends. "You get guys coming into you hard, and hopefully it just gets you in the right spot and you're able to absorb the impact. But Josh kind of got clocked."
To make room on their 40-man roster for Johnson, the Mets transferred reliever Pedro Beato to the 60-day DL.