In his first Cactus League game playing the field since his bout with elbow neuritis, outfielder Austin Slater got banged up again.
Slater, 30, is dealing with left calf and hamstring tightness, according to the team’s injury report from Friday. Multiple journalists in Scottsdale have reported that Slater will undergo an MRI on the leg.
Earlier this spring, Slater didn’t throw for a week because of a sore right elbow. He had a flexor strain in his right elbow in 2020, this particular injury wasn’t viewed as serious.
“So nothing new that says ‘Ah, man this is going to be a long-term thing,’” manager Gabe Kapler said on March 1. “At the same time, have him cool a little bit and we’ll wait until he’s ready. Be patient.”
Now Slater’s lower body also isn’t cooperating. He’ll be sidelined for at least a couple days, Evan Zebeck of The Mercury News reported.
Slater stole two bases in Thursday’s Cactus League game. Injuries have limited him to just three exhibitions in Arizona, though.
Opening Day in New York is March 30 — less than two weeks away. Slater is expected to tandem with Mike Yastrzemski as a center field platoon in a revamped outfield that features Michael Conforto and Mitch Haniger in the corners.
Slater hit .264 with a .774 OPS last season. With new rules limiting pickoff throw attempts and bigger bases, Slater’s speed could make him even more valuable.
If Slater can’t get right for the start of the season, the Giants will have to dip into their reserves in the outfield. Haniger is also dealing with a Grade 1 oblique strain; his timetable to return is unclear.
Catcher/outfielder Blake Sabol would make sense to serve as depth, and veteran Stephen Piscotty may become more of an option as well. The Giants have said they plan to carry five outfielders on their 26-man roster, and prefer to configure the lineup with LaMonte Wade Jr. at first base and Joc Pederson at designated hitter.
In other news
- Shortstop Brandon Crawford’s left knee soreness that plagued him for much of last year has already surfaced this spring, but he’s expected to return to baseball work this weekend according to the team.
Behind Crawford on the depth chart would be second baseman Thairo Estrada, with a slew of backup options sliding to cover him at second. Brett Wisely remains in the Giants’ big-league camp along with Casey Schmitt, the latter of whom actually has more minor league experience at shortstop.
- Buster Posey reportedly delivered a speech to Giants prospects at Papago Park, and the message resonated particularly with top prospect Kyle Harrison.
“I really liked what he said about being prepared and getting confidence from knowing you’ve put in the work,” Harrison told The Athletic. “The mental side, that was the biggest separator. Having that confidence is the biggest thing, building it at each level. When you have that confidence, that’s what makes you unstoppable.”
- Third baseman David Villar (hip flexor strain) is expected to return to Cactus League action Saturday. Cole Waites (lat strain) threw a live bullpen session this week and will complete another one before pitching in a spring training exhibition. He may be fighting for the final spot in SF’s bullpen.