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.