Cardinals’ Willson Contreras to return to catching duties on Monday

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Lucas Peltier/USA TODAY Sports
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BOSTON — Willson Contreras’ demotion from catching didn’t last very long.

St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said before Saturday’s game against Boston that the 31-year-old Contreras will be back behind the plate on Monday night when the Cardinals open a homestand against the Milwaukee Brewers.

“We felt really good about the progress that we’ve made and it lines up really well for him to catch Monday,” Marmol said.

Looking to replace Yadier Molina at catcher, St. Louis signed the three-time All-Star to an $87.5 million, five-year contract in December, its biggest move of the offseason.

“We talked about it last night and I told him that I’m ready to catch,” Contreras said after Saturday’s 4-3 comeback victory over the Red Sox.

“I’m not going to be just a DH because it’s really hard just to be a DH when I can be behind the plate,” he said. “I was just ready to catch.”

Contreras said Marmol came to him and asked if he was ready.

“I don’t know if I was acting different, he read something in my body and went right to the point and said: ‘Are you ready to catch?’ and I said yes,” Contreras said.

But Marmol announced last weekend that Contreras would be taking a break from catching for a while – a move that raised questions about the fit of the free agent acquisition in the first place.

The departure of Molina, a nine-time Gold Glove winner who retired after his 19th season with the Cardinals, looms over the team’s losing record.

Contreras will be catching right-hander Jack Flaherty on Monday. The last time he started behind the plate was on May 4 for Flaherty, who was tagged for 10 runs in 2 1/3 innings. Contreras came in as a defensive replacement the next day.

“This is what they wanted,” Marmol said.

Now, they’ll be together again – and Contreras will have a chance to fulfill what St. Louis envisioned during the offseason.

Contreras has been the designated hitter during his time away from behind the plate. He is batting .263 with three homers and 18 RBIs entering the middle game of the three-game series in Boston.

MLB homer leader Pete Alonso to IL with bone bruise, sprain in wrist

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Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH — The New York Mets will have to dig out of an early-season hole without star first baseman Pete Alonso.

The leading home run hitter in the majors will miss three-to-four weeks with a bone bruise and a sprain in his left wrist.

The Mets placed Alonso on the 10-day injured list Friday, retroactive to June 8. Alonso was hit in the wrist by a 96 mph fastball from Charlie Morton in the first inning of a 7-5 loss to Atlanta on Wednesday.

Alonso traveled to New York for testing on Thursday. X-rays revealed no broken bones, but the Mets will be missing one of the premier power hitters in the game as they try to work their way back into contention in the NL East.

“We got better news than it could have been,” New York manager Buck Showalter said. “So we take that as a positive. It could have been worse.”

New York had lost six straight heading into a three-game series at Pittsburgh that began Friday. Mark Canha started at first for the Mets in the opener. Mark Vientos could also be an option, though Showalter said the coaching staff may have to use its “imagination” in thinking of ways to get by without Alonso.

“I’m not going to say someone has to step up and all that stuff,” Showalter said. “You’ve just got to be who you are.”

Even with Alonso in the lineup, the Mets have struggled to score consistently. New York is 16th in the majors in runs scored.

The team also said Friday that reliever Edwin Uceta had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. Uceta initially went on the IL in April with what the team called a sprained left ankle. He is expected to be out for at least an additional eight weeks.

New York recalled infielder Luis Guillorme and left-handed reliever Zach Muckenhirn from Triple-A Syracuse. The Mets sent catcher Tomás Nido to Triple-A and designated reliever Stephen Nogosek for assignment.

Nogosek is 0-1 with a 5.63 ERA in 13 games this season.