With the way the Giants shuffle their roster, there are weeks when it seems that Gabe Kapler must spend hours talking to players who are being optioned back to Triple-A. The frequency of the moves doesn't make it any easier, and Kapler said they were "not easy conversations" when LaMonte Wade Jr. and Jason Vosler were told they were being sent out.
"They've been really meaningful for our team over the last couple of weeks," Kapler said.
Wade and Vosler were optioned when Alex Dickerson and Darin Ruf rejoined the roster after Sunday's win. Both have played roles in the Giants staying in first place despite all their injuries, with Wade filling in at first base and in the leadoff spot at times and Vosler seeing starts at third base and hitting some big homers.
The Wade decision was particularly glaring because of how well he had played, and how often he had been atop the lineup recently. He posted a .832 OPS and four homers in 21 games since he was last called up from Triple-A, playing good defense at first and in the outfield. Wade had played well, but he has minor league options remaining and the Giants face three lefties in five games this week, so he was the one sent down.
"LaMonte, in particular, was as professional as you would have expected from a guy with that level of makeup and awareness," Kapler said. "He totally understood. He understood that with Alex Dickerson coming back and Darin Ruf coming back, there were just fewer at-bats, fewer outfield at-bats in particular. Given what we have coming up -- with several lefties and Alex Dickerson in the lineup against right-handed pitching, with likely Steven Duggar in center and (Mike Yastrzemski) in right -- we thought it was best for (Wade) to continue to get regular plate appearances so that he's ready for us and we're ready for him at just the right time."
Kapler said Vosler also understood the situation. The Giants plan to primarily play Wilmer Flores at third until Evan Longoria returns, and like Wade, Vosler has options remaining.
"Both of those guys are going to be making an impact on our roster going forward," Kapler said.
If the Giants stay healthy, this won't get any easier. Tommy La Stella started a rehab assignment on Tuesday and is eligible to return July 2. It's not a good time to be slumping, and while few Giants are, Mike Tauchman has struggled at the plate since an April trade.
Tauchman has a .558 OPS as a Giant and is batting .141 over his last 29 games, but he has some of the longer plate appearances in the big leagues and is second in MLB in Defensive Runs Saved in left field. Tauchman has made game-saving plays in two games, robbing Albert Pujols and Juan Soto of homers.
Kapler said Tauchman is making mechanical changes to his swing right now, noting sometimes it takes time for that click.
"Additionally, he's won several games for us on defense," Kapler said. "I don't want to not acknowledge that he's had struggles at the plate. I think Mike would tell you that he's had struggles at the plate. That's true, but he's also helped us win baseball games in various ways and we expect that his defense will continue to play through these offensive challenges.
"Even with his offensive challenges he's still continued to see pitches and be a guy that can grind out opposing pitchers and potentially turn the lineup over and get back to the top of the lineup and we see value in that. His overall offensive profile is a big reason why we went after him and why he's a Giant."