Giants

Brandon Belt hospitalized during Giants' win over Phillies

Brandon Belt hospitalized during Giants' win over Phillies

UPDATE (8:51am PT on Saturday): Brandon Belt posted this photo at 4:14am this morning:

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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. 

Mayor London Breed clears way for Giants' June return to Oracle Park

Mayor London Breed clears way for Giants' June return to Oracle Park

The Giants expect the construction of their new bullpens to be finished in the next week or so. It might not be much longer before players are allowed to throw off the mounds. 

San Francisco mayor London Breed outlined new reopening rules on Thursday afternoon, and there was good news for professional sports teams. As part of a phase that will go into effect before June 15, professional sports teams can practice in the city of San Francisco with an approved plan. The city is targeting June 15 for the next phase, which states in part, "Professional sports games, tournaments and other entertainment venues allowed with no spectators with approved plans."

The players and owners are still far apart in negotiations, but if they can strike a deal that gets baseball back in July -- the target is to get games back by the July 4 holiday -- the Giants will be cleared to come home. Internally, they are still discussing the next steps and what a Spring Training 2.0 might look like. They're trying to decide between training at Scottsdale Stadium and doing so at Oracle Park, and the current lean is said to be returning to San Francisco.

It's not quite that easy, of course. The Giants would have to make significant changes to the structure at Oracle Park, expanding clubhouse space and finding new areas within the ballpark's footprint to train while following social distancing rules. They're hashing all of that now, and while they were never all that concerned about the restrictions in San Francisco, it certainly is a sigh of relief that the city is officially moving forward with reopening plans. 

[RELATED: Field to Table: How to make Oracle Park-style garlic fries]

The Giants have quietly reopened one of their other facilities in the meantime. Players who remained in the Scottsdale area have been allowed to work out at the ballpark there, although social distancing is practiced and there are limits on how many people can be in the building at one time. The vast majority of the team remains spread out across the country. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

How Giants fans' support impressed Mike Yastrzemski, Mauricio Dubon

How Giants fans' support impressed Mike Yastrzemski, Mauricio Dubon

Mike Yastrzemski and Mauricio Dubon entered this season as two of the more popular Giants, but a year ago at this time they were in extremely different situations. Yastrzemski was just getting his feet wet in his first week in the big leagues. Dubon was playing in Triple-A for the Milwaukee Brewers. 

They both got shots to grab a starting role later in the 2019 season with the Giants, and both did enough that they were going to be in Gabe Kapler's Opening Day lineup, possibly right at the top. Life changed quickly for Yastrzemski and Dubon, and on this week's episode of "Chalk Talk at Home," they talked about how far they've come. Both said interactions with the Giants fan base stood out early in their big league careers. 

"I struck out my first at-bat and they were still cheering for me walking back," Yastrzemski  "You don't get that too often, where it's a big market, big city with a huge history of winning, and usually fans demand excellence. The fans are so great out there that they're just exited for somebody to get an opportunity to come help the team and they're going to support you."

Dubon came along three months later, but he already knew all about Oracle Park's supportive fan. He grew up as one after moving to Honduras to Sacramento as a teenager. Still, Dubon found himself surprised by early interactions. 

"I was just trying to play baseball and the next thing I know I'm walking down the streets going to the field and a lot of people are honking in the car and saying hi to me, and I had no idea how they recognized me," he said. "It's pretty amazing how the Giants fans are."

Last year's rookie breakouts are training in Nashville and Miami, respectively, and both hope to be back at Oracle Park soon. MLB is angling for a July return, although there are plenty of hurdles. Whenever the sport resumes, it'll do so without fans, which might not be the adjustment you would expect.

Yastrzemski said he's able to get so focused at the plate that he never hears any noise anyway. The outfield may get weird, though. 

"You're used to having to like try and scream at the guy next to you to try and get his attention," he said. "You can whisper now."

[RELATED: Learn how to make Oracle Park's garlic fries]

Yastrzemski said it's going to be interesting to see how guys react, because some really feed off the energy coming from the seats. Dubon certainly qualifies as one of those players, and he said the empty stadium "is going to be weird."

"I'm a guy that feeds off that," he said. "I've just got to get used to it, I've just got to get used to not having anybody. I played in rookie ball here in Florida with literally nobody and it's going to be pretty much like that with the best players in the world."

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]