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Spring Training Daily

ST Daily: A Pagan Ritual

by Nathan Grimm
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Angel Pagan played just 96 games last season, missing 45 games from mid-June to early August with a back strain.


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The ailment ended his season before the Giants' title run, with Pagan undergoing surgery in late September to repair a bulging disc and narrow the nerve canal in his lower back. In February, the 33-year-old said he would have no restrictions this spring as a result of the surgery.


"I'm good, I'm perfect," Pagan said at the time.


That declaration may have been premature in light of recent news. Pagan hasn't played since Sunday due to a stiff back, and while the outfielder and the club were originally reticent to connect the dots, Giants manager Bruce Bochy Thursday admitted he is "a little concerned" with Pagan's balky back.


"I think we need to be (concerned)," Bochy said. "He's hit a bump in the road, so I'm a little concerned. We've got Hunter (Pence) down, we'd like to get (Pagan) out there as much as we can, and I don't know how much he's going to be able to."


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Pagan received a pain-killing injection in the back Thursday to relieve some of the stiffness, and he's already been ruled out for at least the next three days.


That's a tough proposition for a Giants team that's already without Pence, one of the team's best offensive performers. If Pagan isn't able to get on the field before April, the defending champs could be faced with starting the season without two of their projected starters in the outfield.


Wieters Dodges Bullet


There was concern Matt Wieters' right elbow might be compromised after last season's Tommy John surgery, but some of those fears were alleviated Thursday.


An X-ray on Wieters' elbow came back clean, easing the mind of, among others, Orioles manager Buck Showalter.


"There's no reason to have any other tests," Showalter said Thursday. "I talked to him when he got back. Upbeat. Felt good today, so I feel confident we'll get it going again before long."


Wieters caught his first Grapefruit League game Tuesday, a step in the right direction, but he was diagnosed with tendinitis in the elbow Wednesday. The game action was his first since May 10 of last season.


The O's will likely take it easy with their backstop, letting him get some at-bats as designated hitter before easing him back in at catcher. With no structural damage, there's still time for the 28-year-old to build up to being ready for Opening Day.


It would be a huge plus for the club if Wieters was healthy to start the year. Wieters batted .308/.339/.500 with five homers in 26 games last year before being shut down. Without him, the team leaned on light-hitting options like Nick Hundley and Caleb Joseph to handle the catching duties.


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Down Goes Brown


Domonic Brown, who said he's feeling good at the plate this spring, left Thursday's game with an Achilles injury. After the game, Brown was diagnosed with tendinitis, an issue that he said has been bothering him for a couple weeks.


“I want to be in there, Spring Training or not,” Brown said. “I feel pretty good at the plate. I don’t want to miss any time, but this is part of the game, also. I’m definitely frustrated for sure. It seemed like we were going in the right direction, it was getting a little bit better.


“As soon as Chase Headley hit the home run (in the second inning), I took off and started feeling it then. Once I got to the on-deck circle … I could definitely feel it. Not pulling but grabbing a little bit.”


Brown is hitting just .241 this spring, but he's walked five times in 11 games, a good sign after the 27-year-old walked just 34 times in 144 games last year. Brown was a breakout star in 2013 but was an equally big disappointment last season, batting .235/.285/.349 with just 10 homers. The Phillies are hoping Brown can have a bounce-back season and approach his 2013 numbers this year.


Taijuan On


To end on a high note, it was another good day for Taijuan Walker Thursday.


The Mariners pitching prospect twirled four scoreless innings against the Indians, striking out five in the outing. Walker has now struck out 13 hitters over 12 shutout innings to start the spring.


That's a stark contrast from 2014, when Walker was limited to just 38 innings -- 23 of which came in September -- by injury and ineffectiveness. Shoulder issues plagued him in spring, and Walker didn't make his MLB debut until July 1.


The talent has long been there, so his early numbers aren't surprising. Walker is squaring off with southpaw Roenis Elias for the final rotation spot, and given the choice the club would almost certainly prefer the 22-year-old win the job. If he keeps putting up zeroes, it won't be much of a decision.