SAN FRANCISCO -- For most of the 2022 season, Brandon Belt dealt with daily uncertainty about whether his knee would allow him to perform. When Belt finally decided to have surgery in early September, he had to deal with a different kind of murkiness.
A month ago, Belt wasn’t sure if the procedure would provide enough relief for him to play next season, but those concerns are gone. During an interview that aired on Monday’s Giants Talk podcast, Belt said his knee is “doing great.”
“Honestly it feels way better than I expected it to at this point,” he said.
Belt said he’s “really optimistic” about the way he feels. He has not progressed to running yet, but he’s walking without a limp and moving well, and he has been a regular at Oracle Park while going through rehab.
The uncertainty about 2023 has not fully gone away, though. It just surrounds a new set of hurdles. If Belt is not playing next spring, it likely will be because he didn’t find the right situation, including with the Giants.
“If I don’t (play again) it’s not going to be because of my knee,” he said. “I think my knee is going to be strong and be ready to play next year, so hopefully that’s what happens. You never predict the future but I think physically, I’ll be ready to play next year.”
Belt has said several times that he would like to return to the Giants for a 13th season, but the writing appears to be on the wall. A recent appearance with Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow during a game had the feel of a goodbye, and the Giants are not expected to push for a reunion.
Belt does not plan to sign a minor league deal somewhere to prove that he’s healthy, but he could still find intriguing opportunities. Two teams close to his Texas home — the Rangers and Astros — loom as obvious fits. The Rangers have a good first baseman in Nathaniel Lowe but got very little production from the DH spot and have former Giants hitting coach Donnie Ecker on staff. Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel had a down year and will be a free agent.
RELATED: What Giants future holds for La Stella after another lost season
Regardless of how it turns out, Belt is happy he got one more year in San Francisco, even if the Giants missed the playoffs and he wasn’t able to replicate his 2021 success. He was a guest on Giants Talk with longtime friend and teammate Brandon Crawford, who has at least one year left in San Francisco.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen, but coming into this year that’s what I wanted to do — I wanted to take in all these cool moments of being together since we don’t know what’s going to happen next year,” Belt said. “I think I’ve been able to do that. It’s been a tough year physically and team-wise, but for the most part, I’ve been able to take it all in and enjoy it.”