Latest blow in first half: Injuries will rob Giants of some September intrigue

Latest blow in first half: Injuries will rob Giants of some September intrigue

SAN FRANCISCO — There are few things to look forward to when you’re 26 games out in early July, but the Giants could have potentially had an interesting group on the field in September. In this nightmare first half, injuries have robbed them of even that possibility. 

Imagine a day game after a night game where Bruce Bochy could have let some of his kids get a taste: Austin Slater, Steven Duggar and Mac Williamson in the outfield … Christian Arroyo and Ryder Jones on the left side of the infield … perhaps Tyler Beede on the mound. For a team looking at a rebuild, it would have been a breath of fresh air. Instead, the Giants are contemplating winter ball plans. 

Slater was the latest to go down, tearing his adductor muscle off the bone Friday night. He will not need surgery but he will need 10-12 weeks of rehab, all but ending a promising rookie season. Slater was batting .290 when he got hurt and looked to be the second half’s everyday left fielder. 

“It’s been kind of a roller coaster,” he said. “Obviously this is the opportunity you dream of. I still feel I proved myself and proved I can play at this level.”

Bochy agreed, saying Slater showed “he can handle major league pitching.” Arroyo did that for a few weeks but was sent down to make adjustments. He was hit by a pitch, suffering a deep bone bruise, and in his second at-bat back he was hit again. It’s possible Arroyo will at some point need minor surgery, although that hasn’t been decided yet. 

Jones was hoping to go home over the break but he’ll spend his time rehabbing a right wrist contusion. A sneaky killer right now might be persistent hamstring tightness that halted Duggar’s rehab assignment right as it started. Duggar, 23, is considered the center fielder of the future and would have been in San Francisco already if not for a flexor strain late in camp and then the hamstring injury. The Giants now are hoping to get him back to the point where he can make the promotion to Triple-A Sacramento. 

Even the veterans of the prospect group have suffered injuries. Jarrett Parker missed months after crashing into a wall and his rehab assignment was just halted for three or four days because of neck stiffness. Williamson started the season on the DL with a quad strain, but he’s healthy now and could see plenty of playing time in the second half. 

The list includes non-injuries, too. Joan Gregorio might have gotten a bullpen cameo soon but he’s suspended the rest of the season after testing positive for a banned substance. Bochy called the run of injuries a disappointing part of this first half. 

“These kids are part of our future, so that’s a tough break for them and us, the fact we’re not going to get to see them at some point this year,” he said. 

The injuries might lead the Giants to alter some of their offseason plans. Bochy has long been a proponent of winter ball and he said he hopes some of his prospects take advantage of the leagues in the Caribbean and South America. Not many Giants have in recent years, and Slater was unsure if he would return after injuring his hand overseas last winter. On the flip side, Adam Duvall used winter ball to help propel his career. 

“I’m a supporter of winter bell, especially when somebody misses time,” Bochy said. “I know kids are hesitant to go but … the way you get better in this game is by playing it and by playing it with competition and pressure.”

Bochy noted that winter ball games ramp up the pressure because there’s so much urgency to win every game in a short season. It’s a reality the Giants won’t know down the stretch this year. 

Sonny Gray traded to Reds in three-team deal after A's, Giants interest


Sonny Gray traded to Reds in three-team deal after A's, Giants interest

Both the Giants and the A's reportedly had interest in acquiring Yankees starting pitcher Sonny Gray this offseason, but he won't return to the Bay Area. He will be heading to the Cincinnati Reds as part of a three-way trade.

Gray signed a three-year. $32-million extension as part of the deal, plus a club option . The Yankees originally received second baseman Shed Long and a 2019 competitive balance pick from the Reds for Gray and left-handed pitcher Reiver Sanmartin. 

But Jerry Dipoto wanted to be a part of it. The Mariners also traded Josh Stowers to the Yankees for Long.

Everyone caught up? 

Gray would have made sense for both Bay Area teams, as the Giants and the A's could use an influx of quality starting pitching. Gray went 11-9 with a 4.90 ERA and 123 strikeouts in 130.1 innings for New York last season, but he was far better on the road than he was at home. 

Considering Oakland Coliseum and Oracle Park are far more pitcher-friendly than Yankee Stadium, a bounceback season in the Bay Area certainly could have been possible. Alas, it appears Gray could be making his home starts at Great American Ball Park, which just might be the most hitter-friendly park in the entire league.

Why Josh Harrison would fit Giants but isn't perfect platoon partner


Why Josh Harrison would fit Giants but isn't perfect platoon partner

With Farhan Zaidi now at the head of decision-making, the Giants want a more versatile roster. One player who fits the mold and has been linked to the Giants in recent months is Josh Harrison.

FanCred's Jon Heyman resurfaced the report Sunday, listing the Giants, Dodgers, Angels, Phillies and Rays as teams interested in the former Pirates second baseman. 

Giants manager Bruce Bochy has said he will embrace platooning players, and second baseman Joe Panik consistently has been talked about as a player the front office will look at as a left-handed hitter in need of a right-handed partner. 

So, could Harrison be the answer? Yes and no. 

Harrison, 31, certainly is the kind of multi-positional player Zaidi covets. While he spent 87 of the 89 games he saw in the field at second base, compared to just two at third base in 2018, he has played five positions -- second, third, right field, left field and shortstop -- over his eight-year career. 

The Giants could use Harrison all over the field, but is he the right platoon partner at the plate with Panik? Not exactly. 

Panik hit just .191 against left-handed pitching last season, compared to .282 facing right-handers. But Harrison, a right-handed hitter, also struggled mightily against left-handed pitching. He had reverse splits, hitting .262 against right-handers and just .219 against left-handers in 2018. 

Harrison's splits very well could be an outlier, though, making him more intriguing to the Giants. He hit .286 against left-handers in 2017, and is a .279 career hitter against southpaws. 

They'll have to hope his 2018 season isn't a sign for things to come, but Harrison makes plenty of sense for the Giants to at least entertain adding the utility man.