SAN FRANCISCO — Here’s all you need to know about the current situation in left field, an ongoing black hole for the Giants for years on end: Alen Hanson, a utility infielder, has gotten two of the last three starts there, and that could be the norm for a while.
The Giants made an outfield move Saturday morning, but it was not one that will particularly shake things up. This was more about kicking a painful decision down the road. Mac Williamson, who was struggling since returning from a concussion, was optioned back to Triple-A. Austin Slater, who was hitting .344 at that level with 24 doubles and five homers, was recalled, but he will not get an everyday look.
Manager Bruce Bochy said Hunter Pence likely will start in left on Sunday and indicated that Hanson will get additional time there as the Giants try to take advantage of one of their hottest bats. There are no indications that the team is ready to make a more serious move, such as parting ways with Pence — who has a .463 OPS — or Austin Jackson, who is at .603.
“These guys have had success in the major leagues,” Bochy said. “It could be a game or two that everything clicks.”
Pence is a fan favorite who is in the last year of a lucrative deal, and Jackson is not even a quarter of the way through a two-year deal. Both were relegated to backup duty recently by Gorkys Hernandez and Williamson, but the latter had seen his OPS drop to .516 after hitting three homers before his concussion.
“We just want Mac to get back to playing every day and get his swing back to where it was when we brought him up earlier before his concussion,” Bochy said. “
Williamson has a 1.525 OPS in two minor league stints this season. If he can recapture any of that magic, made possible by an offseason swing overhaul, perhaps the Giants will come to terms with the situation at the big league level. For now, they will continue to roll with veterans, hoping that they break out. Bochy said Pence and Jackson are working hard every day to contribute in limited roles.
“I know how hard this game can be when you’re not playing every day,” he said.
The problem is that that is the role. The Giants need their backup outfielders to produce as pinch-hitters, but Jackson is 2-for-15 off the bench and Pence is 1-for-10. Slater, with his simple swing and gap power, could be intriguing in that role, and perhaps he’ll stick. For now, he appears to be the only reinforcement coming. Bochy said there have been no discussions about promoting Steven Duggar.