Giants

Brandon Belt sidelined by heel pain as Giants' MLB opener approaches

Brandon Belt sidelined by heel pain as Giants' MLB opener approaches

On the first day of intrasquad games the Giants were without two key players, and another was slightly limited. 

Gabe Kapler said Brandon Belt is out at least five to seven days with right heel pain. Hunter Pence took his swings Wednesday but did not play the outfield because he has minor foot pain, though the Giants expect him to be a full go soon. Buster Posey missed the day with the same personal issue that caused him to miss Friday's workout. 

Belt's pain, which he has had in the past, is by far the most concerning. The Giants have just 15 days until their opener at Dodger Stadium and their starting first baseman is in a walking boot. Kapler said it was “premature to make an assessment" for the opening series. He said he spoke with Belt and the first baseman was confident he would be okay. 

If Belt is not ready by opening day, the Giants do have some first base depth. Wilmer Flores, Pablo Sandoval and Darin Ruf all could handle starts there. 

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Belt had been working out with Group 2, which includes Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria, Posey and Donovan Solano. The Giants played a simulated game in the afternoon at Oracle Park, but they did not have players stationed at every position. Because they generally had infielders set up for every inning, coaches took turns fielding at first base. 

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Belt spoke with the media on Sunday and expressed optimism about the upcoming season. He said he feels good about safety protocols put in place and has talked to several doctors about whether this plan is a good idea. Belt also said he was excited about the short season.

"It could be a year that maybe a team that wouldn't get in otherwise gets in and they go on a hot streak and maybe win the World Series," Belt said. "Our goal is the same no matter if we're playing 162 or 60 -- we're playing to win ballgames and get in the playoffs and ultimately win a World Series."

Giants prospects could benefit from reported MLB player pool expansion

Giants prospects could benefit from reported MLB player pool expansion

While roughly 30 Giants minor leaguers train in Sacramento, some notable names were left off the 60-man player pool by the team.

Those prospects might be summoned to Sutter Health Park soon, though.

Baseball America reported Friday, citing sources, that MLB is considering allowing teams to add 15 players to their player pool. According to the report, some teams are struggling to play intrasquad games due to lack of position players.

This could be good news for Giants prospects like Sean Hjelle, Seth Corry, Tristan Beck, Luis Matos and others.

Twitter user @giantsprospects speculated which 15 players the Giants might want to add to the group in Sacramento.

Based on MLB Pipeline's Top 30 prospect ranking for the Giants, here's where those prospects fall on the list.

Seth Corry -- No. 5
Luis Matos -- No. 9
Sean Hjelle -- No. 10
Tristan Beck -- No. 19
Gregory Santos -- No. 17
Melvin Adon -- No. 24
Jairo Pomares -- No. 14
Blake Rivera -- No. 16
Kai-Wei Teng -- No. 22
Trevor McDonald -- N/A
Ricardo Genoves -- N/A
Rayner Santana -- N/A
Aeverson Arteaga -- No. 21
Kyle Harrison -- No. 12
Casey Schmitt -- No. 23

This list isn't official -- it's just a guess -- but if the Giants added those 15 players, it would mean a good portion of their top 30 prospects would be in Sacramento getting much-needed development time.

No. 1 prospect Joey Bart, No. 2 Marco Luciano, No. 3 Heliot Ramos, No. 4 Hunter Bishop, No. 6 Patrick Bailey, No. 7 Alexander Canario, No. 8 Luis Toribio, No. 11 Will Wilson, No. 13 Jaylin Davis and No. 25 Camilo Doval already are at the alternate site in Sacramento.

Schmitt was the Giants' second-round draft pick (No. 49 overall) this year, while Harrison was taken in the third round (No. 85 overall).

[RELATED: Dereck Rodriguez impressed by Joey Bart, other prospects]

Farhan Zaidi, the Giants' president of baseball operations, is trying to rebuild the team's farm system, so getting several of his top prospects at least a month of development this year would go a long way to helping the big league club return to glory over the next few seasons.

Giants' Austin Slater has flexor strain, could be in lineup by weekend

Giants' Austin Slater has flexor strain, could be in lineup by weekend

The Giants got relatively good news from the tests taken on a young player who might be having a breakout season. 

Austin Slater has a right flexor strain that kept him out of the lineup for a second straight game, but manager Gabe Kapler said it's possible Slater will be able to DH sometime this weekend against the A's. 

Slater felt pain during Tuesday's game in Houston and had to sit Wednesday. He was able to take swings Friday and Kapler said that went well. 

"A flexor strain for a position player is less daunting, perhaps, than for a pitcher, because outfielders can monitor how often and how hard they throw," Kapler said. "They may have one or two throws an entire game. I think there are ways to allow flexors to come around for outfielders that you just couldn't do for pitchers."

Slater had an elbow sprain in 2018 but it happened the last week of the season, so there was no need for a timetable. The injury this time is poorly timed, as he has been one of the hotter hitters in the league, slugging three homers on the road trip and compiling numbers that are up there with Mike Yastrzemski and Donovan Solano, the two early-season stars for the Giants. Slater has a .444 on-base percentage and is slugging .632, and he's tied for the MLB lead with five stolen bases. 

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The Giants released a few other injury updates Friday. Sam Coonrod (lat strain) threw a 30-pitch bullpen session, which should put him pretty close to a return. Drew Smyly (finger sprain) is throwing on flat ground and will be re-examined this weekend. Jeff Samardzija (shoulder inflammation) is rehabbing San Francisco but has not been cleared to throw. Reyes Moronta (shoulder surgery) is throwing bullpen sessions at the alternate site in Sacramento. 

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