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Back from Triple-A demotion, Wade Jr. eager to help Giants

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SAN FRANCISCO -- LaMonte Wade Jr. is 27 years old, so he was falling in love with baseball at a time when Albert Pujols consistently was one of the most dangerous hitters alive. Last month at Dodger Stadium, during a spot start at first base, Wade found himself standing next to the future Hall-of-Famer. 

Pujols, 41, reached base and asked Wade how he was doing and how his family was holding up through the craziness of the last year. Wade smiled Friday as he told the story. 

"That was pretty cool," he said. "I talked to my dad about it after the game."

Given the situation the Giants are in, Wade is going to be having a lot more conversations at first base with established big leaguers. 

The Giants put Brandon Belt on the IL on Friday and recalled Wade from Triple-A, as there is significant concern surrounding Belt, who had his knee operated on in 2018. Darin Ruf was at first base against lefty Sean Manaea in Friday's 2-0 win, but Wade is expected to get most of the starts there against right-handed pitchers. 

Wade already has made seven starts at first base this season, and has handled the transition well. He won't be Belt on scoops and tough grounders, but few are, and manager Gabe Kapler said he's liked what he's seen from Wade on the infield. Wade said he's comfortable at first base. 

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Wade had a .814 OPS and had started hitting leadoff before he was surprisingly sent down after last Sunday's game to clear a roster spot as Alex Dickerson and Ruf returned from the IL. He said he understood why the move had to be made, and Kapler has credited him for handling it professionally. 

"I understood where (Kapler) was coming from and what was going on here with the team. There were no hard feelings," Wade said. "Unfortunately I'm coming back on a sour note with Belt getting hurt. You never want to come back like that, so you hope he's doing good and hope he can come back because we really need him. With that being said, you try to step up and help out the best you can while he's gone."

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