Latest blow in first half: Injuries will rob Giants of some September intrigue

Latest blow in first half: Injuries will rob Giants of some September intrigue

SAN FRANCISCO — There are few things to look forward to when you’re 26 games out in early July, but the Giants could have potentially had an interesting group on the field in September. In this nightmare first half, injuries have robbed them of even that possibility. 

Imagine a day game after a night game where Bruce Bochy could have let some of his kids get a taste: Austin Slater, Steven Duggar and Mac Williamson in the outfield … Christian Arroyo and Ryder Jones on the left side of the infield … perhaps Tyler Beede on the mound. For a team looking at a rebuild, it would have been a breath of fresh air. Instead, the Giants are contemplating winter ball plans. 

Slater was the latest to go down, tearing his adductor muscle off the bone Friday night. He will not need surgery but he will need 10-12 weeks of rehab, all but ending a promising rookie season. Slater was batting .290 when he got hurt and looked to be the second half’s everyday left fielder. 

“It’s been kind of a roller coaster,” he said. “Obviously this is the opportunity you dream of. I still feel I proved myself and proved I can play at this level.”

Bochy agreed, saying Slater showed “he can handle major league pitching.” Arroyo did that for a few weeks but was sent down to make adjustments. He was hit by a pitch, suffering a deep bone bruise, and in his second at-bat back he was hit again. It’s possible Arroyo will at some point need minor surgery, although that hasn’t been decided yet. 

Jones was hoping to go home over the break but he’ll spend his time rehabbing a right wrist contusion. A sneaky killer right now might be persistent hamstring tightness that halted Duggar’s rehab assignment right as it started. Duggar, 23, is considered the center fielder of the future and would have been in San Francisco already if not for a flexor strain late in camp and then the hamstring injury. The Giants now are hoping to get him back to the point where he can make the promotion to Triple-A Sacramento. 

Even the veterans of the prospect group have suffered injuries. Jarrett Parker missed months after crashing into a wall and his rehab assignment was just halted for three or four days because of neck stiffness. Williamson started the season on the DL with a quad strain, but he’s healthy now and could see plenty of playing time in the second half. 

The list includes non-injuries, too. Joan Gregorio might have gotten a bullpen cameo soon but he’s suspended the rest of the season after testing positive for a banned substance. Bochy called the run of injuries a disappointing part of this first half. 

“These kids are part of our future, so that’s a tough break for them and us, the fact we’re not going to get to see them at some point this year,” he said. 

The injuries might lead the Giants to alter some of their offseason plans. Bochy has long been a proponent of winter ball and he said he hopes some of his prospects take advantage of the leagues in the Caribbean and South America. Not many Giants have in recent years, and Slater was unsure if he would return after injuring his hand overseas last winter. On the flip side, Adam Duvall used winter ball to help propel his career. 

“I’m a supporter of winter bell, especially when somebody misses time,” Bochy said. “I know kids are hesitant to go but … the way you get better in this game is by playing it and by playing it with competition and pressure.”

Bochy noted that winter ball games ramp up the pressure because there’s so much urgency to win every game in a short season. It’s a reality the Giants won’t know down the stretch this year. 

Bumgarner undergoes surgery on pitching hand


Bumgarner undergoes surgery on pitching hand

A day after a line drive fractured a bone in his pitching hand, Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner underwent surgery to stabilize it.

A specialist in Arizona added three pins to Bumgarner's fifth metacarpal bone in his left hand on Saturday, the Giants announced. 

Bumgarner told reporters on Friday that the pins will remain in his hand for four-to-six weeks. Bruce Bochy told reporters on Saturday that the team does not expect Bumgarner to return until early June. 

The 28-year-old suffered the fracture in his final start of spring training, and was set to start Opening Day against the Los Angeles Dodgers on March 29. In 21.0 innings over six appearances this spring, Bumgarner posted a 3.43 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. 

Bumgarner injury just the latest in recent run of misfortune for Giants

Bumgarner injury just the latest in recent run of misfortune for Giants

Eight years ago in this very space, I postulated that Brian Sabean had done a lucrative deal with Satan.Co to win the Giants’ first World Series in 56 years. He never denied it, so I took that as silent affirmation.

Now, it seems Beelzebub has brought the bill, to be paid in full on receipt of same.

The San Francisco Giants, who needed as few things as possible to go wrong to start this season, just got two full-on groin shots in the space of less than a week, the second of which was delivered when Madison Bumgfarner fractured his hand trying to repel a line drive from Kansas City second baseman Whit Merrifield during Friday’s Cactus League game.

The injury did not look serious at first because, well, because Bumgarner pretends to be made of adamantium, but an X-ray revealed the fracture and though no time for recovery was listed, Bumgarner may return to health before the Giants do.

And yes, I know spring training is no time for fans to lose hope for a cheery season, but you take the fact as they present themselves, and the Giants are already 40 percent down from their projected starting rotation. Jeff Samardzija is already on the disabled list with a hinky pectoral muscle, and as the Giants know all too well, things like this tend to come in sixes, if not eights.

The 2010 Giants hit on every midseason trade and parlayed that good fortune and the assets already on board to a storied October run. A year later, Buster Posey got Scott Cousin-ed, and his broken ankle snapped the team’s hope of repeating.

The Giants then won in 2012 and ’14 without too much incident, but starting midway through 2016, continuing into last year when Bumgarner flipped his dirt bike, and now down to today, it’s been nothing but seeds and stems for Giantvania.

The rumor mill has been quick to offer up possible replacements for the Bumgarner vacancy (though not for his expected results), but at a time in the game’s development when the best and most progressive-thinking teams are talking about four-man rotations and Staff on every fifth day, a strategic development that requires strength in numbers, the Giants have neither that strength nor those numbers.

Their best internal choices are veteran Derek Holland, who might already have been penciled in as Samardzija’s replacement, and phenom-in-training Tyler Beede. But that essentially uses up the in-house bank of usable goods, so Sabean can either buy something very off-the-rack or hope he and Bruce Bochy can fake it long enough for Samardzija (three to four weeks) and then Bumgarner (six to eight, according to ESPN's Buster Olney).

This seems awfully daunting, especially for a team that has buzzard’s luck and a rotting bat rack for a season and a half. But with six days before the regular season starts in Los Angeles against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers...oh, the hell with it. If you’re a Giant fan, start drinking, and continue until further notice. The evil lord of the netherworld will tell you when it’s time to stop.