Mac Williamson

Brian Sabean: Giants 'willing to experiment' with Alen Hanson in left field

Brian Sabean: Giants 'willing to experiment' with Alen Hanson in left field

The Giants have been up and down this season battling a devastating injury bug. Going into Saturday's slate of games, they're 34-36, good for fourth in the NL West and 5.5 games back of the D'backs.

One part of their roster they still can't figure out, just like in years past ever since moving on from Barry Bonds, is left field. Brian Sabean, Giants Executive VP of Baseball Operations, called left field a "black hole" Friday on KNBR.

The latest piece to the never-ending puzzle in left field may be placing an infielder in left field not named Brandon Belt. 

"Absolutely not afraid in a big moment," Sabean said when asked about the emergence of Alen Hanson. "For us, it might be worth a swing in left field, which we're willing to experiment with." 

Hanson has been a big surprise this season after the Giants signed him in December to a minor-league deal. In 27 games, the switch-hitting 25-year-old is batting .320 with a career-high five home runs. With runners in scoring position, Hanson is batting .333 with two home runs and a 1.137 OPS. 

As the Giants lose third baseman Evan Longoria to a fractured left hand, the plan is to use Pablo Sandoval and Hanson at third base. But Hanson has the speed for outfield and has played 20 games in right field and 10 in left over his three-year career in the majors. This season with the Giants, he has played three innings in left field.

The Giants have struggled yet again in left field this season. Hunter Pence is batting below the Mendoza Line at .188 in 28 games and Mac Williamson hasn't recovered well at the plate since his concussion.

After dominating Triple-A, Williamson came up and exploded for three home runs in five games in April. Williamson collided with a wall on April 24 and hasn't been the same since. He is now batting .240 on the year with four home runs. In June, Williamson is batting .182. 

With no one team taking full control of the NL West, the Giants know they need to find any ways of getting their best bats in the lineup, even if that means giving Hanson a bigger glove. 

Source: Mac Williamson to join Giants in Chicago

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USATSI

Source: Mac Williamson to join Giants in Chicago

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants scored just three runs while getting swept out of Houston, but they'll add a big bat before facing the Cubs this weekend. 

Mac Williamson will join the team in Chicago, per a source, returning from a stint on the DL with a concussion. It was not immediately clear what the Giants would do to open a roster spot. 

Williamson has broken through at two levels this season, and he had three long homers in 19 at-bats last month before suffering a concussion on April 25. The time on the DL was longer than the Giants and Williamson had hoped, as he had recurring symptoms every time they felt he was close to returning. It did not, however, do anything to cool his bat down. Williamson had six hits in five rehab games for the Sacramento River Cats, homering the first two nights. Overall, he has 11 homers in 21 games this year after an offseason spent making swing adjustments. 

The Giants had planned to carry 13 pitchers for the next few days because of issues getting length from their starters, but perhaps they could place a veteran outfielder on the DL to clear a spot. Because of two off days this week, they also could temporarily option a reliever back to Triple-A, although that's risky with a series at Coors Field next week. At the very least, it appears they'll have a power bat back in the lineup when they visit the game's best park for hitters. 

As Giants go down quietly, Mac Williamson gets rehab assignment off to rocking start

As Giants go down quietly, Mac Williamson gets rehab assignment off to rocking start

SAN FRANCISCO — The Colorado Rockies had three outfielders Friday night, as teams do. Those guys did not catch a single fly ball until the 27th out. The Giants, as you can tell, had quite the boring night offensively, but that doesn’t mean the organization didn’t provide intrigue. You just had to go down to Triple-A to find it. 

Mac Williamson started a rehab assignment with the River Cats and homered the first night back. Before the game, manager Bruce Bochy said the team did not plan on adding Williamson or any other hitters for a two-game set in Houston next week. Perhaps Friday’s showing in the big leagues, and Williamson’s proof that his swing remains lethal, will change some minds. You would think the Giants would want him taking aim at the short porch at Minute Maid Park. 

At some point, the team that spent the offseason preaching improved outfield defense will also have to come to terms with the situation in center. The 6-1 loss did not swing on any one play, but it stood out a bit when Austin Jackson could not chase down an RBI double with the Giants down a pair. Ian Desmond’s knock to left-center had a hit probability of just 45 percent but Jackson came up seven feet short, per Statcast. He has been worth negative-8 defensive runs saved through a quarter of the season, and if he keeps that up for a full year, he’ll surpass Denard Span’s negative-27 from a year ago.

So again, we go down to the minors, for this catch from Steven Duggar. The Giants wanted their center fielder of the future to force his way up here, but Duggar has slumped to an OPS under .700. He won't get the call until he finds his swing. In the meantime, an easier fix may be to move Gorkys Hernandez — who hit his third homer to provide the only offense — to center, with Gregor Blanco, and install Williamson back in left on a full-time basis. 

Bochy usually doesn’t hint at moves publicly, but team officials discuss the roster on a daily basis. Perhaps this series with the Rockies will inspire change before a tough three-city trip. The first two nights have not gone well for a lineup that can go into a slump at a moment’s notice. 

“We just couldn’t get much going,” Bochy said. “It started out great with the homer. You’re feeling good about how it’s going to go. Their guy settled down and kept us off balance.”