Giants top prospect Joey Bart set to return after fractured left hand

Giants top prospect Joey Bart set to return after fractured left hand

The last time Joey Bart returned from an injury, the catcher made one thing clear -- he's one of the best prospects in all of baseball. 

Bart's sophomore season was cut short at Georgia Tech after hitting .296 with 13 home runs in 44 games. He missed the team's final 11 games with a broken thumb. 

"I think people kind of made that a huge deal, like it was the biggest deal in the world me breaking my thumb," Bart said on May 29 in an exclusive interview with NBC Sports Bay Area. "I remember I came into the season ready to go, ready to prove myself." 

As a junior, he did exactly what he set out to do. Bart won multiple national honors while hitting .359 with 16 home runs and wound up being taken by the Giants with the No. 2 pick in the 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. 

Fast forward two years after his broken thumb and Bart, the Giants' No. 1 prospect and top catching prospect in all of baseball, is again looking to show that an injury is only a tiny bump in his road to the show. He fractured the second metacarpal in his left (non-throwing) hand on April 15 after getting hit by a pitch that was oddly called a foul ball.

At the time of his injury, Bart was hitting .270 with two home runs and an .882 OPS in 10 games for the high Single-A San Jose Giants.

After missing 43 games, Bart is set to rejoin the San Jose Giants on Tuesday.

"I’m coming along well, I feel good. It’s kind of up to them, the front office. It could be any day now," Bart said last Wednesday. "I feel ready to go and I’m just excited to get back up to San Jose with the team and win a bunch of games." 

(Photo via Ali Thanawalla)

Once Bart learned the extent of the injury, he put his head down and did whatever it took to get back on a diamond. Within the first few days, he was already on the field, conditioning and working out. He's placed a heavy emphasis on being in the best shape possible and focusing on much more than just his hand.

"That’s been a big priority, just working out and getting in good shape so when I come back, hopefully nothing happens to my body aside from my hand," Bart said. "That’s kind of been the purpose. Keep everything on top and in tip-top shape." 

Bart admits the process hasn't been easy, however. In the beginning, he wanted to push his timeline and get right back on the field. The future wasn't on his mind, all Bart wanted to do was play ball again. 

As he neared his return, he saw the bigger picture. 

"It’s been a little bit of a lengthy process. It wasn’t a very bad fracture, but it was tough," Bart said. "I didn’t want to give in too early. The last couple of weeks, it’s been a lot better compared to the first few weeks. It’s been very encouraging and I shouldn’t be too far out here.

"Now looking at it, I understand that I need to be 100 percent confident in my hand and ready to roll on that first night that [manager Billy Hayes] writes me back into the lineup.

"I’m just really looking forward to getting back."

[RELATED: Watch Heliot Ramos homer in second game back from injury]

The face of the Giants' future has missed the last seven weeks. Never mind that, though. He's about to be back on the field, and for once, this Bart should be on time or well ahead of schedule going to San Francisco.

Giants' Mauricio Dubon needs jersey number after Gabe Kapler took his

Giants' Mauricio Dubon needs jersey number after Gabe Kapler took his

Gabe Kapler had his introductory press conference as the Giants' new manager, and he's chosen his uniform number as well.

The skipper has chosen No. 19 to sport this season, which means young infielder Mauricio Dubon will have to choose a new number -- and he needs your help.

He recently took to Twitter and asked what number he should wear now that he has to make the switch: 

No. 21 appeared to stand out from a Milwaukee Brewer's fan account, since Honduras became a country in 1821. Dubon was born in Honduras in 1994 (sorry to make you guys feel old).

[RELATED: Dubon gets engaged at Disneyland Paris]

Five-time All-Star second baseman Jeff Kent also sported the number with San Francisco.

We shall see ... 

Giants continue Triples Alley construction, moving bullpens off field

Giants continue Triples Alley construction, moving bullpens off field

SAN FRANCISCO -- Gabe Kapler and Scott Harris both went through the same drill earlier this week, standing near the home dugout at Oracle Park as a team photographer grabbed shots from their first days on the job. Behind the two new members of the brain trust, construction workers continued the work that started last month.

The Giants plan to make an official announcement about the changing dimensions of their ballpark, and the new locations of the bullpen, soon, but those who attended the press conferences this week -- and a TopGolf event the park hosted last week -- got a sneak preview. 

A chunk of the bleacher seats in right center have already been ripped out to make room for the new bullpens, and some seats have also been taken out in left center to accommodate other changes to the ballpark. But team president and CEO Larry Baer said the changes won't be drastic for hitters. 

"Triples Alley will still be Triples Alley, just with some refinements," Baer said. 

The Giants are still figuring out some of the exact details, but they know the bullpens will be side-by-side in center and right center. The kale garden will remain, although it sounds like there will be some changes to the dimensions out there because the center-field wall is coming in about six feet, which should please hitters. 

The deepest part of the park -- the nemesis for Brandon Belt and other left-handed hitters -- is 421 feet and will ultimately be closer to 410 feet when the construction is done, the Giants think. The Giants put a bar underneath the new scoreboard last season and plan to have additional changes, including a terrace, out there this year, continuing a trend around the game -- seen across the bridge in Oakland -- of having more gathering spots for fans. 

[RELATED: What Kapler learned from Phillies tenure]

Even as they held two press conferences last week, the Giants remained coy about their exact plans for the dimensions, but they expect to take out about 400 seats.

Some of those may be made up for in other spots. There is a short wall separating the old bullpens from the first row of seats and about 80 feet of that wall has been taken down on both sides of the park, which would seem to indicate that the Giants are going to add some premium seating in some of that territory.