Listen Live Now:

Big Giants bat getting closer, but hurdles remain before return

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Darin Ruf accelerated and then he slammed on the brakes, and his hamstring gave out May 26.

Nearly three weeks later, the Giants and Ruf want to ensure he has the confidence that he can stop and go before he is welcomed back to a lineup that could use him.

Gabe Kapler said the return of the first baseman/left fielder “is on the table” during a series with the Diamondbacks at Oracle Park that finishes Thursday, but just like Ruf needs more confidence in his hamstring, Kapler did not sound overly confident the activation would occur soon.

“We want to see a certain level of intensity with Darin where he feels comfortable letting it go,” the manager said before the Giants opened a homestand against the Diamondbacks on Monday. “We haven’t gotten there yet.”

The 34-year-old ran the bases, took batting practice and fielded ground balls at first before the game. The Giants’ offense is coming off four games in Washington in which it scored three runs, and Ruf, who posted an .882 OPS in 100 plate appearances before he went down with the hamstring strain, would be helpful at first, left and as a late-game bench bat.

The Giants have used rehab assignments for position players infrequently and recently have brought back Mike Yastrzemski, Brandon Belt and Curt Casali without getting them minor league at-bats first. The results have not been great, but Kapler did not sound scared off. He said sending Kapler to Sacramento first is a “possibility,” but only if Ruf feels he needs it.

“I don’t know that it’s going to be necessary from a timing perspective because there are other ways where I think we can simulate those reps,” Kapler said, with plenty of cage hitting and virtual reality work popular on the team. “We’ll decide if it’s a way to make him feel safer and more comfortable because that’s the first priority.”

There were several more injury updates concerning Giants players, a list that Kapler read from over Zoom for about a full minute before fielding questions. Yep, it’s a hurting bunch.

Alex Dickerson (upper back strain) could be back Saturday, which is the earliest he could be activated. Steven Duggar, another lefty-hitting outfielder, has struggled recently.

Reyes Moronta (right flexor strain) began a throwing program Monday, a positive step for a pitcher who has dealt with multiple injuries since last pitching in a game April 10.

Logan Webb (right shoulder strain) will start a throwing program Tuesday. The righty last pitched May 29 and will have to build back up.

John Brebbia (Tommy John rehab) is the opener for Triple-A Sacramento on Monday and is expected to pitch Tuesday, too. It will be the first time the righty, who was a solid reliever for the Cardinals for three years, will be pitching back to back.

“After that he’ll get a day off, and we’ll decide if he’s ready to join us,” Kapler said.

Aaron Sanchez will pitch Thursday for Sacramento and is expected to go 3-4 innings. It will be his third rehab outing with the River Cats.

Kapler was asked about the first release of All-Star voting results, which showed Buster Posey leading NL catchers and Brandon Crawford at fourth, behind Fernando Tatis Jr., Javier Baez and Corey Seager, for NL shortstops.

“I think Buster is deserving of the credit that he’s getting for any number of reasons,” Kapler said. “…With Craw, it’s really interesting. One of my favorite sites is FanGraphs, and I checked FanGraphs to see where he ranked with the other shortstops around baseball, and it’s pretty favorable for Craw. He’s really had a great year.”

Tatis is one of the faces of the game and has the superior OPS (1.008 to .870). Crawford can have gripes about Baez (.738 OPS) and Seager (who’s played 37 games).


Get KNBR in your inbox

Subscribe today to bring The Sports Leader to your email inbox weekly.