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Saturday, April 28, 2018

New wave of injuries plaguing the Giants

Right as the Giants finally looked to have found a nice groove for the first time this season, they all of the sudden got hammered with some more bad injury news prior to Saturday's first game of a double-header vs. the Dodgers.

Before we get into the new injury news, the silver lining, I suppose, is that the Giants got both Shark and Cueto back quicker than expected. On another positive note, the big guy every one's waiting on to make his 2018 debut, ace Madison Bumgarner, had the pins removed from his surgically repaired left hand, and while it's obviously still to early to tell an exact date for his return, the Giants are hopeful it will be right around his May 28th eligibility date. Now, that could be a little optimistic as that's exactly one month from today and the big lefty hasn't begin to throw a ball yet.

Even with Shark back and Cueto looking as strong as ever, unfortunately it's not all roses and sunshine on the Giants' injury front. Outfielder Hunter Pence hit the DL once again with a thumb injury that he suffered way back on the home opener vs. the Mariners on April 3rd. He tried playing the next two weeks in pain but obviously it wasn't working as he just wasn't doing much of anything at the plate. As far as his return, the Giants haven't said much on the subject recently but my guess is that they won't be rushing him back. Now Joe Panik hurt his thumb when placing a tag attempt on Yasiel Puig in Friday night's game which has been diagnosed as a sprain. Panik will be joining Pence on the DL with a very similar injury, however, Bruce Bochy and the staff are not optimistic that Panik will be back after 10 days and this could sideline him multiple weeks then be something they have to monitor when he does return.

Granted, the second basemen has cooled off since his scorching hot start in which he homered 3 times in the first handful of games of the season, as his average has dipped below .300 down to .276 at the time he hit the DL. Even with that being said, Panik is always so key even if he isn't necessarily in the midst of a hot streak because he'll still give you good, professional at-bats and he also helps out the pitching staff with his gold glove defense up the middle.

Panik and Pence are not the only ones accompanying MadBum, Mark Melancon and Will Smith on the DL. One of their offensive saviors over the last 10 days or so and a guy who's had a huge impact in the club's rise back up to within a game or two of .500, Mac Williamson, hit the wall chasing down a foul ball in Tuesday nights game. It didn't appear to be anything too serious at first, however, the outfielder experienced concussion like symptoms which the league does not take lightly, and it forced the Giants to place their hottest hitter on the 7-day concussion DL. Mac and Panik are the real tough ones to swallow at the moment as the Giants have been playing their best ball of the season and both those guys have been instrumental in one way or another.

I had been waiting to write a piece on Mac Williamson all week because I said on twitter, after he hit that last go-ahead jack vs. the Nationals which ended up being the difference in the game that this guy, that he's made a bigger impact than any other hitter in the Giants lineup through this first month. Although Evan Longria is starting to make a case. Williamson was tearing it up all Spring Training long and while I really hoped he would have broken north with the big club, I think having him play daily in Sacramento allowed him to carry that momentum over and keep it going. Had he made the Giants out of spring, he would have wound up sitting and I'm sure that hot bat would have cooled off. Instead, he went over to Sacramento and put on an even bigger show there than he provided in Arizona. Hopefully he can get back out there as soon as his 7-day stint is up because the lineup certainly needs him. The 28 year-old has started his big league season with a .316/.316/.789 line to go along with 3 jacks (all of which were instrumental in Giants' victories) and 6 RBI in just 19 at-bats. 

The Giants went 4-1 with Williamson in the lineup and their record entering play Saturday was 12-13. On April 17th they were 6-10 so they're slowly getting back on the right track, now their challenge will be to stay on course without two of their hottest hitters. Kelby Tomlinson seems like the most logical choice to fill in for Panik at second base, but the Giants called up Alen Hanson who was absolutely tearing it up in Sacramento himself and I personally would like to see him provided with an opportunity. We all know what Kelby can do, and he's a good scrappy player who's an ideal utility guy who, if possible, should be kept in that role. Hanson's younger with a bit more upside and more importantly was shredding PCL pitching over the first month. The 25 year-old outfielder/second basemen was slashing .403/.479/.661 with 3 jacks, 9 RBI while also swiping 6 bags in 7 attempts. In his Giants debut Saturday, Hanson launched a 3-run bomb to right-center out in triples alley, which was extremely impressive. Hanson's never been a big power guy but that home run showed he's got the ability to do it and with Panik expected to miss at least a few weeks, I'd like to see Hanson given the first shot at picking up that slack.

Quick Hits
-At the time of publishing this, the Giants just got done falling in game one of their double-header vs. LA, so they won't be returning to .500 on Saturday. They still can reach .500 this weekend but they'll have to beat Alex Wood behind Cueto in game two, then ride Ty Blach to victory on Sunday.

-Austin Slater was recalled from Sacramento to take Williamson's spot. Much like Hanson, Slater was raking in AAA, slashing .358/.435/.642 with a home run and 13 RBI. Hopefully Williamson will be back by next weekend, but Slater will likely soak up the majority of the at-bats out there until he does. Gorkys Hernandez could get some looks as well. 

-In order to save some bullpen arms for game two of Saturday's double-header, Bruce Bochy went with Pablo Sandoval to pitch in the top of the 9th... He threw the only 1-2-3 inning the Giants had all game. 

-Mark Melancon has begun throwing a baseball again but has no scheduled bullpen sessions on the horizon yet and no timetable as to when he will begin throwing from a mound, let alone a target return date. I'd be surprised to see him in the first half though as the Giants have no reason to rush him back. Strickland has been solid in the 9th and the bullpen has been pretty decent overall. A healthy Melancon would certainly elevate things even more, but there's no telling if and when that will come to fruition. 

-It was starting to feel like this time would never come, but left-handed reliever Will Smith, who if healthy will immediately become one of the teams best relievers, is expected to make his long awaited return to the big club at some point next week. The tough question Boch will have to face is who to send down. With Josh Osich hitting the DL already, that leaves Roberto Gomez or Derek Law the most logical options... I do know rookies Reyes Moronta and Pierce Johnson aren't going anywhere
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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4 Comments:

  • At 10:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The Gigantes look like they're actually coming together and playing as a team. We knew it would take a little while for the new guys to settle in. I really like Longoria. THat guys gonna have a huge year I think. Still waiting for Cutch 22 to find his consistency and Buster to start hitting home runs. When that happens and we get Bumgarner back and Melancon, this teams gonna be a force. I think we're better than the Dodgers and Rockies for sure. THe D-Bags are gonna be tough but this Giants team is def growing on me. I really like all the young arms they're using. Too bad Stratton got rocked today cuz he's my favorite of them all.

     
  • At 11:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think we're gonna be OK when we get everyone back healthy. Mac Williamson is a beast and I don't know why he didn't start the season with the Giants. They may have a few more wins if he did!

     
  • At 12:48 PM, Anonymous Jason Billingsley said…

    Back to .500 finally. They;re in a groove for sure and it's fun to see them playing like this. What's up with Posey though? Seems like he hasn't really been the big hitter he was. Evan Longoria looks great though. Once Posey and McCutchen come along then things will be even better.

    The bullpen is a big difference i think. They actually are getting the job done this year. Starters are doing OK, offense is still coming into form but that pen is carrying us IMO. It's gonna be a fun summer, can't wait till Bum gets back!

    -JBill

     
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