On a day the Giants moved into a three-way tie for a wild-card spot, weathered injury to pull off an impressive late-September win and watched their offense click into gear for three big seventh-inning runs, the most encouraging development was revealed after play was finished.
Mike Yastrzemski is running again. The outfielder who missed a fifth straight game with a mild calf strain sprinted on the treadmill with “a little bit of weight resistance,” Gabe Kapler said.
With all the necessary caveats that come with any injury, the manager suggested Yastrzemski could make his return Wednesday, perhaps in a pinch-hitting role. The club’s MVP will do some agility and outfield work before the Oracle Park contest against the Rockies, and his progress could not be better timed. The Giants’ almost comically depleted outfield corps took another hit Tuesday, when Luis Basabe was lost to a hamstring strain, with tests coming Wednesday.
“Even just having [Yastrzemski] available to pinch-hit tomorrow would be a huge step in the right direction and give us confidence that maybe a few days later he might be starting a baseball game for us,” Kapler said over Zoom after the Giants’ 5-2 victory over Colorado, bringing them up to .500. “And again, at this point, given how quickly he’s progressing, there’s no need to rule anything out, even for tomorrow.”
San Francisco’s post-Basabe outfield unit was a team of natural infielders: Daniel Robertson, Mauricio Dubon and Darin Ruf. Robertson, who hadn’t played left field in two years, made the play of the game in throwing out Garrett Hampson trying to stretch a single into a double in the seventh, but it was not a trio the Giants want to test again.
Austin Slater likely will not be able to play the outfield again this year. Alex Dickerson has a sore elbow the Giants wanted to rest until they couldn’t (and he went on to hit the go-ahead home run). Even backup options like Joey Rickard were lost to injury. They had run out of pieces at the season’s most important mark.
Getting their best piece back would do wonders for a club fighting to survive.
Kapler on an infielder starring in left and a slugger with a sore elbow coming off the bench to play hero: “This is the time of year that guys have to push their bodies, and we ask for more from our players. These guys know these are playoff games, so they’re willing to do anything.”
On a day the Giants lost Chadwick Tromp, Joey Bart slugged two doubles, which is one more extra-base hit than he had in his past 23 games.
“In Joey’s first at-bat he looked calmer, he looked like he was seeing the ball earlier, and he was making better decisions, his swings looked more aggressive. That was an indication of good things to come potentially,” Kapler said. “Then obviously, the second couple of at-bats, he squared the baseball up and got really big hits for us.”