UPDATE (8:51am PT on Saturday): Brandon Belt posted this photo at 4:14am this morning:
SAN FRANCISCO — Before Friday’s game, manager Bruce Bochy laughed as he pondered life with Pablo Sandoval as his backup shortstop. After the game, Sandoval appeared headed for plenty of time at first base, and there were few smiles in a clubhouse that had just clinched a win.
First baseman Brandon Belt was removed in the third inning of a 4-0 victory and rushed to a local hospital where he was being evaluated for appendicitis. The Giants expected to know more on Saturday morning, but word out of the clubhouse was that Belt was likely headed for surgery. Andres Torres had an appendectomy late in the 2010 season and missed 13 days, so at the very least, it appears the Giants are looking at another short DL stint for their best hitter.
Belt looked sick before the game and complained about stomach pains, but he thought he could play through it. He was removed after one at-bat and two innings in the field.
“He just didn’t feel well,” Bochy said. “After that first at-bat Dave Groeschner came up to me and said we’re going to get him out of there and get him evaluated.”
An appendectomy generally means a layoff of at least a couple of weeks, and that would rob the Giants of an MVP candidate at a time when they were finally whole from a lineup perspective. Joe Panik returned from the disabled list and reached base four times, and the Giants cruised to an easy win. But now they’ll once again have a big hole to fill. Belt leads the team in average (.307), homers (11), RBI (31), runs (32) and OPS (.950).
“Hopefully it’s something he can bounce back from sooner than later,” Panik said. “He’s been swinging the bat as well as anyone in the National League. Hopefully he can bounce back quick because this is the type of year we know he can have.”
This is the latest in a run of bad luck for Belt, who in the past has been concussed because of a throw from a teammate, a slide back into second base and a hit-by-pitch. He broke his thumb in 2014 when a pitch drilled him. Belt was playing this year with multiple huge bruises because of pitches and foul balls, but few in the National League have been better.
The Giants were already planning to activate Hunter Pence on Saturday, and now they'll likely need a second move. Kelby Tomlinson was optioned to the minors earlier Friday but the Giants luckily sent him to San Jose, and not Triple-A Sacramento, because the High-A club was at home. That could allow Tomlinson to return Saturday if Belt needs to go on the disabled list, with Sandoval and Buster Posey handling first base.