Scutaro, Belt, and Pagan. All three are on the DL, all three should be in the starting lineup, and all three are desperately needed to help spark this anemic offense.
Marco Scutaro, last year’s starting second baseman, has been out all year with a chronic back issue and finally started a rehab assignment yesterday with the rookie-level Arizona League Giants. In his first rehab game, he played three innings at second base, as expected, and went 0-2 at the plate. With the call-up of rookie Joe Panik from Triple-A late last week, Scutaro’s return becomes somewhat less urgent, although his veteran presence could be vital in sparking a turn-around. Unfortunately, there is still no time table for his return, and Bochy has said that, upon arrival, he will serve mainly as an infield utility type player, allowing Panik to grow and mature as the Giants’ second basemen of the future.
First baseman Brandon Belt is another familiar face striving to get back on the field. He suffered a broken thumb on May 9th after being hit by a pitch, and has been on the DL since. He underwent minor surgery and will hopefully complete his minor league rehab assignment later this week. In his absence at first, Michael Morse has filled-in pretty admirably at first, concomitantly; however, diminishing the depth of what was, at one point, the most potent offense in baseball. Tyler Colvin has proved to be a decent pick-up, but even his production can’t match that of Belt’s, whose power quickly vaulted him atop the league leaders in HR’s earlier this season. Belt’s return, which is projected to be sometime around Independence Day, would surely add some pop to the struggling Giants lineup, relieving some pressure off some of the big guys who are simply trying to do too much. Morse would be able to slide back to left field, and the lineup would regain it’s power depth that once spelt trouble for opposing pitchers.
Finally, we arrive at Angel Pagan, who just went on the DL this morning, retroactive to the 15th (meaning he can return at the end of the month). The Giants countered by recalling infielder Adam Duvall from Triple-A Fresno. Pagan’s importance to the team these past couple of seasons has been always heralded, going 85-59 with him leading off, and a measly 33-58 with him sitting. While Blanco has picked up his offense after a poor start to this season, his move from a utility outfielder to everyday lead-off man spells more trouble for the team, as they sacrifice some needed veteran presence and already-lacking depth, for a fantastic 4th outfielder who can only do so much and an inexperienced rookie infielder who may not get the breathing space he needs to develop the right way.
With the division lead now down to three games, the Giants need to regain their health, and in doing so, their depth; it’s what will keep them rolling this season to the major’s best record.
The Giants try to avoid the sweep today against the Pads at 1:05 PT, with two-time NL Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum (5-5, 4.90) squaring off against Padres’ veteran Ian Kennedy (5-8, 3.90).
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