According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, Ronny Paulino finally made it to the United States today after an extended delay due to visa issues in his native Dominican Republic.
Paulino, who signed a one-year, $1.3 million contract with the Mets over the winter, is expected to report to camp tomorrow.
The 29-year-old backstop encountered difficulties obtaining his work visa as a result of his 50-game suspension for PEDs last August. He’ll have to serve the remaining eight games on the suspension once the regular season begins, but Mets manager Terry Collins plans to keep him busy until then.
“We’re going to push the envelope a little bit here in the next couple of weeks to try to do as much as we can to get him as ready as possible, and then use that extra week to get him playing time,” Collins said. “The hardest part is the minor-league season doesn’t start until the [April] 7. He can still go get a couple of games in before he does report [to the majors]. We’ll make use of the minor league side as best we can.”
Paulino batted .259/.311/.354 with four homers and 37 RBI over 344 plate appearances before his suspension last season. He is expected to serve as the backup catcher to Josh Thole this season.
I would hope by now that I no longer have to preface All-Star talk with my usual “none of this matters” disclaimers, but please keep all of that in mind when I mention that Nick Markakis is leading all National League outfielders in All-Star voting.
Markakis, with 1,173,653 votes, has surpassed the slumping Bryce Harper in that category. Harper has 1,002,696 votes. The third place outfielder is Matt Kemp of the Dodgers with 925,697. Fourth place — Charlie Blackmon of the Dodgers — is like 300,000 votes back of Kemp.Yes, Markakis, Harper and Kemp may be the starting NL outfield. Brandon Nimmo — not on the ballot — should be grumpy, but he’ll get his chance I’m sure.
The thing about it: Markakis, for as unexpected as his appearance may be on this list, deserves to at least be in the top three. He’s second in WAR among National League outfielders behind Lorenzo Cain. He’s slowed down a good bit in June and he’s coming off of a 2017 season in which he had a 96 OPS+ and 0.7 WAR, but he’s having quite an outstanding season. I write that mostly so that there is a record of it come October and we’ve all forgotten it.
Seriously, though, good for Markakis, who has never made an All-Star Game. Good for Kemp too for that matter, who most people assumed was a walking — well, limping — corpse heading into this season. Good for Harper because anything that can keep up the guise of him having a good year when, in reality, he’s really not, will help his confidence as he heads into free agency.
Finally, good for the American League, who will likely get to face a far, far inferior National League team next month in Washington.
The rest of the voting: