Well, just about the worst news a team still trying to find their offensive identity could get came through the Giants clubhouse Thursday morning. If you watched the game last night, you know that star 3rd basemen Pablo Sandoval left the game after grounding out in the 6th and all we could do at that point was hope it wasn't too serious.
|Pablo Hits DL|
Unfortunately it is. It's the same injury that sidelined Sandoval for almost 2 months last season and caused him to miss over 40 games, this time injuring his left wrist instead of his right. It's the same hamate bone injury, just in the left wrist instead of his right wrist this time, and it's almost exactly a year ago to date when he injured himself the first time. I know the term gets used loosely, but he really was the one guy, along with Buster, that they couldn't afford to lose for any length of time and it's happened. Panda and Posey were really carrying this teams offense all through the first month, and they're already shorthanded in the infield with Freddy Sanchez still a ways off from returning and Aubrey Huff's return still unknown. The 25 year-old all-star was hitting .323 with 5 HR and 15 RBI, again, very similar numbers to where he was last year before going down with the same injury to his other hand. I'm hearing that the way he holds the bat, with the end-nob deep in his palm, is causing pressure on the hamate bones in his bottom-hand and gives him problems on some swings or pitches he doesn't square up properly. And that's what happened on that ground-out last night. I knew when I saw it, it was something that would at least require a 15-day stint, cause you never see Pablo dog it down the line wincing like he was then. On the positive, Panda's gone through this injury before and knows how to deal with it by now, and maybe he can get back a little quicker from this one, especially since this ones in his non-throwing hand. In his absence, the Giants have re-called 3B Connor Gillaspie, a guy I was set to talk about in our upcoming Minor League Report, as he's had a strong start down in Fresno, but will have some mighty big shoes to fill in helping take over for Panda the next 6 weeks or so.
|Pill Needs Look at 3B|
And, as such, the Giants find themselves at a bit of a cross-roads. They already were a borderline offense with Sandoval healthy, now if he's out till mid-June, then that's a large chunk of games they're going to have to account for without their best hitter. Luckily, unlike the Posey injury last year, this isn't something that will keep Sandoval out all year or even linger with him once it heals, and in best case scenario, he could be back with the club the first week of June, ready to go with as his official timeline is 4-6 weeks. One option I was thinking of this morning immediately after hearing the news and going over in my head who could step up at third if Gillaspie doesn't, and I came down to Buster Posey and Brett Pill. Posey played infield in college and has played 1st base flawlessly at the big league level. Third base is tougher but I think he could do it, heck Pablo figured it out after coming up as a catcher. Why not move him over to the hot corner and take some pressure off his legs for a few weeks? Then there's Pill, who's got some experience at the hot-corner and has a right-handed power bat this team sorely needs in their daily lineup. The big question I have in wake of this injury, is how the lineup is going to shake out now with their number 3 hitter shelved along with their 2 hitter. My guess is that Cabrera slides into the 3-spot, or maybe even Pagan moves down as he's performed more like a middle-of-the-order hitter with his extra-base production, than a leadoff guy with his low OBP. That could lead to moving Arias into the leadoff spot, who's been a breath of fresh air since his call-up. I also think "The Pill" needs to be given at least look-see over at third base too. The Giants need some thump to replace Pablo and Pill is the one bat on this roster who could provide that with consistency. Oh, and if you thought Aubrey Huff was done with the Giants, after this injury, think again, cause now they really need him and they really need him to be that 2010 Huff again, just until Sandoval returns. They're simply running out of infielders and were already short on guys who can knock balls into the bleachers.
That's all I really have to say about the Sandoval injury right now. It sucks, but it's baseball, what are you gonna do? I'll tell you this though, with all these injuries the teams suffered the last year and a half, every Giants fan has got to be feeling that this team will never get healthy at the same time! Hopefully Panda is back at the start of June and the Giants are able to stay afloat until then, but again, somebody else is going to have to step up and fill the void. Be it Brandon Belt, be it Aubrey Huff or Brett Pill or whoever, they need someone to at least replace some of the production Pablo was giving them if they want to avoid sinking in the NL West standings.
: The first post-Panda lineup has taken the field for the game against Miami, and indeed, Angel Pagan has been dropped in the order. Blanco got the start in right and led off, with Gillaspie at 3rd hitting 2nd, then Cabrera-Posey-Pagan as the middle 3 followed by Brandon Belt in the 6th spot. However, as I type this update, their offense is being shut down again as Annibal Sanchez has held them to 3 hits through 4 innings and the Marlins have a 2-0 lead thanks largely in-part to a few errors from the "sure-handed" Brandon Crawford.