Gomes hits IL, so catching falls to Barrera for now (updated)

Catcher Yan Gomes, who was removed in the second inning of Friday night’s game against the Giants, is undergoing an MRI this afternoon and the Nationals will wait until the results of that diagnostic test to determine whether Gomes needs to be placed on the injured list, manager Davey Martinez said.

“We have nothing yet,” Martinez said in his pregame Zoom session with reporters. “He’s getting an MRI as we speak, so hopefully he gets back here soon and we know something after the game.”

Tres Barrera is expected to start in Gomes’ place, catching Jon Lester for today’s middle game of the three-game series at Oracle Park. But Martinez said another catcher is en route to San Francisco, though there is a chance he might not arrive by first pitch.

Barrera-Swings-Blue-Road-Sidebar.jpg“We’re waiting to hear back from the MRI and see how Yan’s feeling,” Martinez said. “We have someone on the way. Whether he makes it before gametime (is unknown), so we can’t really announce anything until then.”

A roster move would actually require multiple transactions, including placing Gomes on the injured list and clearing a spot on the 40-man roster for a new catcher. Gomes, Alex Avila and Barrera are the only catchers on the 40-man roster. A player could be moved from the 10-day IL to the 60-day IL to free up a roster spot on the 40-man.

Raudy Read would be next up on the depth chart, but he has been out of action at Triple-A Rochester since mid-May and is now on the minor league injured list. Jakson Reetz, a third-round pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of a Nebraska high school, could be the next backstop in line.

Reetz was recently promoted from Double-A Harrisburg to Rochester, where he’s hitless in three games and 10 at-bats. But the fact that Reetz is healthy would far outweigh his inexperience. Reetz has never played in the major leagues.

For now, the duties of handling the Nationals pitching staff falls on Barrera, a 26-year-old who has been in the organization since being taken in the sixth round of the 2016 draft out of Texas-Austin.

Barrera has all of five games of major league experience, notched his first major league hit on July 4 and recorded a triple last night for his first career extra-base hit. He’s drawn praise for the way he prepares and handles pitchers, no small chore for a guy with relatively little experience when compared to the hurlers he’s catching.

“He’s been unbelievable,” Martinez said. “I often talk about how well he handles himself behind the plate, especially with our veteran pitchers (and) our young pitchers. He does a good job. He does his homework before each series. I’ve watched him, we sit and have conversations with him. I really believe he handles our pitching staff really well.”

Martinez said Barrera had been spending a lot of time working with both pitching coach Jim Hickey and bullpen coach Henry Blanco, a longtime major league catcher, to sharpen his skills.

“For the most part, when he’s gotten the opportunity to start a game and play, we give him little golden nuggets so he just goes out there and relaxes. He’s got a routine that he does and we want him just to relax and to play the game and have fun.”

Update: Gomes has been placed on the 10-day injured list with a strained oblique muscle. Reetz’s contract has been selected from Rochester. To make room on the 40-man roster, left-hander Kyle Lobstein has been designated for assignment.

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