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Why Smoak still is waiting to make his Giants debut

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Justin Smoak got designated for assignment by the Milwaukee Brewers last Thursday, and he spent 15 hours the following day driving back to his home in South Carolina. By the start of this week, Smoak was closing in on a deal with the Giants, and he flew across the country to meet them as they played the Seattle Mariners at Oracle Park. 

On the day the Giants announced the deal, Smoak got a strange -- but somewhat appropriate, given his last name -- welcome to the city. The sky was dark and orange all day Wednesday because of smoke from Northern California's many wildfires. As Smoak got out of bed, he wondered if his hectic travel schedule had turned him all around. 

"Waking up, I thought it was the time change that was messing me up, and then I realized something ain't right here," Smoak said. "It was crazy. I went down to Starbucks at 10 o'clock in the morning and it felt like midnight. It's something that I'll definitely probably never forget."

That was probably about the last thing Smoak figured he would be thinking about this week as he switched teams at a time when that can be complicated. He said in his first 24 hours with the Giants, he got nose-swabbed twice and spit-tested two more times for COVID-19. At some point this week, he also drove up to Sacramento to get six at-bats in a simulated game since he hasn't played for over a week.


The expectation was that all of that would lead to Smoak being in the lineup quite a bit this weekend, with the Giants facing four right-handed pitchers in San Diego. But he hasn't been a starter for either of the first two games for a reason very unfamiliar to the Giants in recent years. 

Right now, Gabe Kapler has too many hot hitters. 

Kapler had Wilmer Flores back at DH on Friday a night after he homered off Chris Paddack in the opener. Flores can also play first or second, but Brandon Belt is in the best streak of his big league career and Donovan Solano has three hits in three of his last five games. 

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"With Flores and Solano both providing a lot of our offense last night, I thought it made sense to get them back in the lineup today against (Garrett) Richards," Kapler said. 

Smoak was available off the bench Thursday for the first time, although he didn't get in the game. Perhaps a rest day was a good thing after a hectic stretch. While Smoak wasn't subjected to any additional screening once he arrived, the intake process the Giants have all additions go through is intense. 

"I don't think it's a bad thing for us that he kind of gets acclimated to the West Coast, the time zone, and that that travel is behind him when we can finally get him in the lineup and get him going," Kapler said.