Morse out at least two weeks; Giants hopeful he keeps playing

Morse out at least two weeks; Giants hopeful he keeps playing

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Michael Morse came to camp last month with two options in mind: Make the opening day roster or go home and settle into retirement. With a week left in the desert, Morse is all of a sudden left with a third choice. 

Morse injured his left hamstring during Monday’s game in Glendale and he’s expected to miss at least two weeks. At some point after he celebrates his 35th birthday Wednesday, Morse will have to decide if he wants to rehab and potentially head down to Triple-A to get ready to try and join the Giants.

“I don’t know … I don’t want to think about that yet,” Morse said. “If it gets to that point, I’ll think about it, but right now it’s (about) how I feel every day. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.”

Manager Bruce Bochy is hopeful that Morse decides to play this out. 

“It’s going to be a little while for him,” Bochy said. “It’s hard to say exactly how long, but two weeks minimum. It’s really too bad for him. He was doing all he needed to do to make the club. It’s a shame.

“I think, not just the way he was swinging the bat, but he was playing a good first base and I put him in the outfield. I think he was moving around well. He came into camp in tremendous shape. That should show him he still has some baseball left. Good baseball.”

Morse has three homers this spring and he was coming on in the days before he got hurt. On Monday morning, a few hours before the game against the White Sox, a member of the staff said that -- barring an injury or unexpected breakthrough elsewhere  -- Morse would open the year with the club. While he was sprinting out of the box later that day, Morse felt tightness. An MRI showed enough damage to sideline him the rest of spring training.

The timing is brutal, but if Morse rehabs and then goes to Triple-A Sacramento to get at-bats, he would still be in a solid spot. The Giants like his presence, and not just on the field. 

“Hopefully we get him back pretty quickly,” Madison Bumgarner said. “We definitely enjoy having him around. He’s definitely a big contributor.”

Morse has had a smile glued to his face throughout 37 days at Scottsdale Stadium. Even Tuesday, a day after a sprint out of the box cost him dearly, he was a boisterous presence in the clubhouse. He took the bad news in stride. 

“I came in knowing I’d either do really bad or really good,” he said. “I thought I played pretty good. It just sucks that I had to get hurt. I don’t think this is something that’ll stop me from getting a shot at playing. I always thought I wasn’t done. I always thought I could keep playing, I’ve just been dealt a couple of bad cards the last couple of years. 

“I proved to myself that I can still play,” he added, smiling, “And I proved to myself yesterday that I’m not really a fast runner.”

Compared to rest of MLB, Giants' injuries in 2018 weren't detrimental


Compared to rest of MLB, Giants' injuries in 2018 weren't detrimental

SAN FRANCISCO — You heard it repeatedly over the season’s final month.

If we were healthy, this team could have competed for a World Series title.

The 2018 Giants finished 73-89, so the statement sounds ridiculous at first, but you can see where the Giants are coming from. With a banged-up roster, they were just five games out in the NL West as late as August 14, and it’s not like the Dodgers and Rockies put the hammer down in September. There’s an alternative universe where a healthy Giants roster stays in that race, takes the West by a couple of games, and then goes on a run in October. You can picture it.

Madison Bumgarner does what he has done before in the postseason. Johnny Cueto, with no elbow pain, gives the Giants a second ace. Buster Posey, with a healthy hip, again catches every inning in October. Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt and Joe Panik get another round of clutch hits in close postseason games. Someone you didn’t expect — Alen Hanson or Mac Williamson or Ryder Jones — becomes this year’s Travis Ishikawa. 

[RELATED: Posey hip injury robs power]

Stranger things have happened. The Giants have proven that in past Octobers, and that’s why they had faith in how good this team could have been if healthy. 

But that narrative misses something important. Yes, the Giants had a series of injuries in 2018, but it’s not like they were alone. 

According to STATS, Giants players spent 1,107 days on the disabled list in 2018, but that placed them right in the middle of the pack. They were 15th, well behind the Angels, who led the Majors with 1,821 DL days, nearly all of which came from their pitching staff. The Mets paced the National League at 1,746. Two National League West clubs had more DL days than the Giants. The average for MLB teams was actually 1,127 DL days, so the Giants weren't particularly unlucky. 

Of the 14 teams ahead of the Giants in DL days, seven made the postseason, including the Dodgers and Red Sox (1,257), who faced off in the World Series. Across the bridge, the A’s (1,267) found their way to October despite losing practically an entire rotation to Tommy John and their young ace, Sean Manaea, to shoulder surgery. 

Now, there certainly are caveats here. Not all DL days are created equal. It’s a bigger hit to lose Cueto to Tommy John than it is to lose a No. 5 starter. Then there are guys like Posey, who officially missed 32 games because of injury but played five months with a compromised hip. He didn't add to the DL numbers much, but his injury left a mark on the record. 

But Cueto and Posey and others are also part of why the Giants should have seen this coming. Team officials often pushed back on that concept, pointing to fluke injuries like Panik fracturing his thumb on a tag or Bumgarner getting hit by a line drive. That’s true, but the majority of the DL days were because of wear-and-tear on older players. That’s not surprising. 

Cueto is 32, has thrown nearly 2,000 big league innings, and dealt with elbow discomfort before coming to the Giants. Tommy John wasn’t a shocker. Jeff Samardzija is 33. Same with Mark Melancon, who had forearm issues when he signed. Pablo Sandoval (hamstring) is 32. Posey is 31. 

There’s nothing you can do to plan for Belt’s appendix flaring up or Steven Duggar’s shoulder popping out as he dives into second, but in general, the Giants put together an old roster, and they should not have been surprised that so many players went down. 

They also should not look at those DL days and retroactively inflate their view of the 2018 roster. This was not a roster that was a bit more injury luck away from a World Series run. 

The good news is that we know the front office won’t go into these biggest weeks of the offseason with that view. We know this because of who they hired, a man who previously served as general manager of the Dodgers. 

Farhan Zaidi’s old club put together a roster that actually did win the division and make the World Series, and did so with players spending 1,617 days on the DL, the third-highest total in the majors.  

MLB Rumors: Braves not in on Bryce Harper after all


MLB Rumors: Braves not in on Bryce Harper after all

I'm going to sound like a broken record here, but where will Bryce Harper land? The rumors have been trickling in and an interesting murmur that The Athletic's David O'Brien brought to surface was bringing the six-time All-Star to Atlanta.

So yes, the Hot Stove is still warm. But it didn't take long for this to quickly become a cold take:

Well -- it was fun while it lasted. Still, it became apparent some Braves fans and the surrounding areas aren't exactly writing "I heart Bryce Harper" on their notebooks. 

But if there was a chance the team down South was still in the mix, that could have been an interesting (and strong) team.

The Braves are "highly unlikely" to bring back fire reliever Craig Kimbrel, so why not concentrate on the bats and the outfield situation for now? Well, to start things off, defensively, they're doing alright. Ronald Acuña Jr. more than made a name for himself in 2018 during his NL Rookie of the Year campaign slashing .293/.366/.552 with 26 long balls and 64 RBI -- and was even mentioned in some MVP talks. In center field, Ender Inciarte has just about every inch of that domain covered, and when he comes through at the plate, the guy can be deadly. 

[RELATED: Giants interested in Bryce Harper]

Harper, of course, is a right-fielder by nature and the team is starving for someone to take over after All-Star Nick Markakis granted free agency in October. Can they depend on Adam Duvall? He had a very abysmal season with Atlanta (.132/.193/.151 in 33 games). So it may not be a difficult decision to make. 

There's also the ballpark factor.

SunTrust Park literally has a section made for lefty Freddie Freeman with a power alley in right field. Imagine Harper getting ahold of one and sending it into the Chophouse -- interrupting someone's meal. Having him add some pop to a lineup that already possesses Ozzie Albies and a group of guys that are more than ready to continue their momentum would be so much fun to watch. 

The team also freed up some monetary space when they traded Matt Kemp to the Braves in that huge salary-swap sending him to the Dodgers, so there aren't many reasons why this wouldn't take place. Well, besides the fact that it's not going to take place.

But he does look good in those colors.