Reyes Moronta

Giants' Reyes Moronta set to take big step in rehab from gruesome injury

Giants' Reyes Moronta set to take big step in rehab from gruesome injury

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When Gabe Kapler gathered the 71 Giants players, 13 coaches and the rest of the support staff at Scottsdale Stadium on Monday morning, it should have been the official start of the biggest spring of Reyes Moronta's career. 

Moronta likely would have entered the spring as a favorite to become Kapler's closer, but he suffered a devastating shoulder injury at the end of August and had surgery on September 10 to repair his labrum. Moronta will spend the whole spring and most of the season rehabbing, but the first full workout day still was an important one for Moronta.

He was set to play catch Monday for the first time since getting hurt. 

"It's a big day," Moronta said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. "Since I got hurt, I've been waiting for this day."

It's a small step, but an important one for a player who is expected to be out until August. The Giants will be careful with Moronta, who holds an interesting spot on the roster. In a camp where Kapler wants every young pitcher to get stretched out, Moronta is one of the few true relievers with big league experience for the Giants.

The Giants plan to be creative this spring, and pitchers are preparing for the possibility that four of five with starting experience might end up in the bullpen going two or three innings an outing. Kapler has been hesitant to hand out specific roles, but the Giants do figure to lock Tony Watson into the late innings somewhere.

After that, there are a lot of question marks, and long term, Moronta still profiles as a closer or setup man. Before the injury, he ranked in the top 20 among NL relievers in batting average allowed (.197) and opponents' slugging percentage (.298). 

A big step will be taken Monday, but Moronta knows he won't fully mentally clear all the hurdles until he gets back on a big league mound. His injury was awful to watch, and it's the type that often lingers when a player starts ramping it up. He said the pain matched the scene, but he didn't realize how much damage had been done to his throwing shoulder until later.

"It was awful pain," he said. "But I feel good now."

[RELATED: How Giants plan to build on submariner Rogers' 2019 debut]

For now, the focus is on getting healthy. Moronta spent his offseason in Scottsdale to focus on rehab, taking a short break to get married. It's a goal for him to follow Johnny Cueto's lead and get back late in the year, if only for a few appearances. 

"It's very important for me and for the team and for my family," he said. "It's important for me to at least pitch a month or so and know that I'm healthy."

Giants pitching leaders in 2010s: Where Bumgarner, Lincecum, Cain rank

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USATSI

Giants pitching leaders in 2010s: Where Bumgarner, Lincecum, Cain rank

The Giants used an NL-record 64 players in 2019, but they were known for stability for most of the decade, particularly in the pitching rotation. During the 2010s, the Giants used just 35 starting pitchers. 

For much of that time, it was Bumgarner, Cain, Lincecum, Vogelsong, etc. with a sprinkling of guys like Chad Gaudin, Mike Kickham, Guillermo Moscoso and Albert Suarez. 

We took a look at Giants hitting leaders for the decade on Monday. Here’s a look at their top pitchers of the decade, with some notes on guys who piled up surprising numbers ... 

INNINGS PITCHED

1. Madison Bumgarner -- 1,836
2. Matt Cain -- 1,213 1/3
3. Tim Lincecum -- 1,045

Surprise: George Kontos. There's a reason they called him "Everyday George." Kontos was at his best when putting out fires right after the starting pitcher departed, but he also served as a long man at times and occasionally got big outs in the late innings.

Kontos ended up throwing 309 2/3 innings for the Giants last decade, which ranked him 11th, ahead of guys like Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez, Jake Peavy and Jonathan Sanchez. 

WINS

1. Bumgarner -- 119
2. Lincecum -- 68
3. Cain -- 60

SAVES

1. Santiago Casilla -- 123
2. Brian Wilson -- 85
3. Sergio Romo -- 82

Surprise: Casilla. The right-hander never got to close out a title run, but he had plenty of strong relief seasons for former manager Bruce Bochy, finishing with a 2.42 ERA as a Giant with back-to-back 30-save seasons. It ended poorly for Casilla, but he doesn't get the credit he deserves for his Giants career.

This is a fun category; Ramon Ramirez, Cory Gearrin, Guillermo Mota, Clay Hensley and Jean Machi are among the players who had multiple saves for the Giants in the 2010s. 

STRIKEOUTS

1. Bumgarner -- 1,784
2. Lincecum -- 1,078
3. Cain -- 965

Surprise: Derek Holland (240) had as many strikeouts for the Giants last decade as Yusmeiro Petit and more than Affeldt, Hunter Strickland and Tim Hudson. Holland tied for 12th for the decade. 

STARTERS ERA

1. Bumgarner -- 3.14
2. Jonathan Sanchez -- 3.48
3. Cueto -- 3.51

RELIEVERS ERA

1. Casilla -- 2.42
2. Wilson -- 2.46
3. Lopez -- 2.47

Surprise: Hunter Strickland. Only seven Giants had a lower ERA than Strickland's 2.91 last decade. What a strange career he had in San Francisco.

Strickland came back from Tommy John rehab and pitched his way onto the 2014 postseason roster, then lost the trust of a lot of fans by giving up a bunch of homers. He also fought Bryce Harper and punched a door, but when he was on the field, he generally got outs. 

ERA+

1. Wilson -- 153
2. Casilla -- 153
3. Reyes Moronta -- 152

BATTING AVERAGE AGAINST

1. Moronta -- .178
2. Will Smith -- .195
3. Ramon Ramirez -- .208

Surprise: Which one surprises you more from that list, Moronta or Ramirez? Moronta has been sneaky-good as a Giant, and the team hopes he recovers from shoulder surgery.

If Moronta ever fixes his walk issues, he's going to be one of the best relievers in the NL. 

[RELATED: A look back at Giants' offensive leaders during 2010s]

WAR

1. Bumgarner -- 32.2
2. Cain -- 9.9
3. Cueto -- 8.8

Surprise: Among starting pitchers to debut after the third title, Ty Blach is the WAR leader at just 2.1. Moronta (3.0 WAR) leads all Giants pitchers who came up after 2014. There was a hell of a dry spell late in the 2010s. 

Giants expect Reyes Moronta out until at least August of 2020 season

Giants expect Reyes Moronta out until at least August of 2020 season

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants reliever Reyes Moronta got good news when Dr. Neal ElAttrache cut into his shoulder, but good news is still a relative term when you're talking about a shoulder injury. 

Moronta did not need to have his right shoulder capsule repaired, but the labrum was damaged and needed repair, and the initial diagnosis is that Moronta will miss nine to 11 months. Manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday that Moronta will likely be on the 11-month end of that rehab schedule. The Giants do not expect him back until next August, but it could have been a longer process had the capsule been damaged.

"That's a little bit less work as far as rehab that he has to deal with," Bochy said. 

Still, the Giants cannot go into 2020 expecting anything from a young right-hander who at one time looked like their next closer. That adds another wrinkle as they try to rebuild their bullpen in the offseason. Among all of Bochy's currently available relievers, Sam Coonrod is the leader in appearances.

Tony Watson is likely out for the year with a wrist injury and Will Smith remains out with a sore back, although he could return this weekend. Trevor Gott is done for the year with an elbow injury and has not resumed throwing. 

[RELATED: Anderson's audition as Giants' closer could last past this year]

Moronta was the one late-innings reliever the Giants knew they had under team control -- he is arbitration-eligible after next season -- but he went down while throwing a pitch Aug. 31 against the Padres. That brought an end to a third consecutive strong season.

Moronta had a 2.86 ERA in 56 appearances and has a 2.66 ERA in the big leagues.