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Ross Stripling rehab ‘has felt slow,’ Bart’s path to return remains unclear

© Ed Szczepanski | 2023 May 17

Ross Stripling has been on the injured list since an MRI revealed a Grade 1 back strain on May 19. 

That condition of injury typically requires two to three weeks of recovery. Every athlete is different, but Stripling isn’t imminently close to returning to action after three weeks. 

“Trending in the right direction, for sure, but it has felt slow,” Stripling said Friday. 

The 33-year-old veteran has a 7.24 ERA in nine appearances this season. He has thrown multiple bullpen sessions and has another scheduled for this upcoming Sunday. 

“Everything’s been mostly fine,” Stripling said when asked how his bullpen sessions have been. 

“I would say I could feel better about where I’m at, but for the most part, everything is definitely getting better. I’m always tweaking stuff… because I wasn’t killing it before I went to the IL,  so you’re trying to get to a place where you feel like your stuff is better. So when I’m back at this level, I can get outs at a clip that I used to, versus this year. So just trying to sync that up more than anything about my injury. Injury feels good. Trying to get the mechanics to where I feel like I’m repeating them every time and my stuff is going where it’s supposed to.” 

Stripling threw his first bullpen session since suffering the back injury on June 2. Three days later, he increased his pitch load in another bullpen. Then Thursday, June 8, he did a light 25-pitch “touch-and-feel” session.

In his next bullpen, Stripling is slated to pitch, sit and pitch again — termed in the industry as an “up-down” — to simulate an inning. 

Stripling said there isn’t a particular pitch that needs more work than others. Sometimes, one pitch works better than another, and vice versa. That inconsistency can be “frustrating,” he said.  

Both Stripling and Alex Wood have been on the injured list, leaving the Giants with three healthy traditional starters in the rotation: Logan Webb, Alex Cobb and Anthony DeSclafani. Sean Manaea, who signed an identical two-year, $25 million deal as Stripling this offseason, has been moved to the bullpen but has taken down bulk innings after openers, acting as a quasi starting pitcher. 

The Giants have two TBAs listed as their starters for the second and third game of this three-game home series against the Chicago Cubs. 

Another key player on the injured list who is working to get back is catcher Joey Bart. Like Stripling, Bart said he’s no longer hampered by the groin injury that shelved him, but he is still trying to find his timing at the plate. 

In six rehab games, Bart is 2-for-21 with no extra-base hits and 11 strikeouts to zero walks. 

Bart arrived at Oracle Park around 3 p.m. unsure of what the Giants’ plans for him were. After Patrick Bailey, who missed a game with neck tightness, went through his hitting in the cage and on-field work without issue, it became clear that Bart wouldn’t be activated. 

“The plan is for Joey to go through a workout today and stay prepared for anything the team needs,” manager Gabe Kapler said. 

Blake Sabol’s Rule 5 Draft status requires the Giants to keep him on the big-league roster, and Bailey has been excellent since debuting. The Giants could carry three catchers, but their roster is extremely crowded at the moment.

Since he began his rehab assignment on June 2, the Giants will either have to return him to the big-league roster or option him to Triple-A by June 22. 

  • J.D. Davis was scratched from the Giants’ starting lineup Friday night with right hip tightness. Casey Schmitt, who wasn’t supposed to start against right-handed starter Marcus Stroman, will take Davis’ place at third base and bat eighth. 

  • Lamonte Wade Jr., among the most patient hitters in baseball, sees 4.35 pitches per plate appearance. Cubs slugger Patrick Wisdom leads the category with 4.58 pitches seen, but he chases much more frequently than Wade.

    Wade is third in MLB in on-base percentage (.419), behind only Luis Arraez and Juan Soto. 

  • Saturday’s game is the Giants’ official Pride Day. In 2021, they became the first MLB team to wear Pride-specific jerseys, and did the same last season.

    Kapler said he expects, once again, for his team to have full participation with the effort.

    “It’s really important,” Kapler said about the event. “Austin Slater’s (quotes) last year I thought was important because he talked a lot about acceptance. It’s just an indication of how devoted our community in San Francisco is to accepting people from everywhere, all walks of life, and, in particular, the LGBTQ+ community. It gives us an opportunity to stand strongly behind that community, and I’m really proud that our organization has continued to be at the forefront of that.”

    The Giants are giving away Gay Pride jerseys to the first 20,000 fans in attendance on Saturday.