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Why new Giant La Stella might see early time at first base

NBC Sports

The conventional wisdom when the Giants agreed to a deal with Tommy La Stella was that he would open the season platooning in an infield spot. He will, but possibly not where most would expect.

President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said Brandon Belt is "a possibility" but "not a certainty" for Opening Day after having offseason heel surgery, which could leave La Stella and Wilmer Flores as the main options at first base early in the year. La Stella bats from the left side and Flores from the right. 

Belt missed nearly all of summer camp last year because of the heel pain but returned in the season's second week and had a career year at the plate. A few days after the season ended, he had a bone spur removed from his right heel. Zaidi said he's seen videos of Belt taking swings and the Giants are happy with where he's at in the rehab process, but they won't know an exact timeline until spring training. 

"Having Tommy and his ability to play first base might be particularly important for us early in the season," Zaidi said. 

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La Stella has made just 10 career starts at first. He primarily has been a second baseman, but also is comfortable at third. The latter two spots figure to be where he spends most of his time during a three-year deal with the Giants that was announced Thursday.

 

La Stella should eventually settle in as a left-handed partner for Evan Longoria at third and also can alternate with Flores and Donovan Solano at second. Zaidi said the Giants anticipate La Stella easily surpassing his previous career-high in plate appearances. The current high is 360 as a rookie with the Braves in 2014, but La Stella was an everyday player for the Angels in 2019 before getting hurt and played 55 of 60 games last season for the Angels and A's. 

"We think he's going to get a lot of at-bats," Zaidi said. "It's just going to come in different roles and positions."

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