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With Steven Duggar likely hitting IL, what could be Giants’ next move?



© Sergio Estrada | 2021 Sep 5

The Giants haven’t had a clean bill of health to start the 2022 season, and their fortunes only worsened on Thursday when Steven Duggar left in the second inning with what the team announced later was a left oblique injury.

Duggar told reporters after Thursday’s game that he first felt discomfort in the last pitch of his final at-bat on Wednesday, then it became unbearable after swinging against Carlos Carrasco.

The outfielder is expected to hit the injured list, where he’ll join Evan Longoria, Tommy La Stella, LaMonte Wade Jr. and Alex Cobb. Duggar has an MRI scheduled for Friday, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said on KNBR Thursday.

“Unfortunately, that’s an injury that usually puts a guy on the sidelines for a few weeks,” Zaidi said.

In the immediate term, the Giants will have to make a roster move to replace Duggar. Southpaw Patrick Corbin is the projected starter for Friday’s series opener in Washington D.C., so the Giants will likely go with a right-handed heavy lineup. But after that, San Francisco may want to add a lefty to fill in while Duggar is sidelined.

“We may have to think about getting another left-handed bat to join the big league roster on Saturday,” Zaidi said.

There are currently no left-handed hitting outfielders at Triple-A Sacramento on the Giants’ 28-man roster. That means if the Giants decide to call up a lefty, more roster moves will come to clear space on the 40-man. Players on the fringe of SF’s roster without minor-league options, such as Tyler Beede or Mauricio Dubón, could be at risk of being designated for assignment.

Some candidates in Sacramento for left-handed hitters are Luis González, Ka’ai Tom and the switch-hitting Bryce Johnson. González has started the year particularly hot, hitting three home runs in 11 games with a .283/.389/.500 slash line.

If the Giants wanted to get creative with finding roster space, they could move one of their injured players from the 10-day injured list to the 60-day IL. But keeping any of Longoria, Wade, La Stella or Cobb out that long wouldn’t align with their generally optimistic timetables.

Wade (knee) is expected to start a rehab assignment this weekend; he’d be the most obvious option to replace Duggar, but he won’t be ready for this Nationals series. Cobb left Wednesday’s game with a groin injury, but his MRI revealed a Grade 1 strain. Longoria (finger) is resuming hitting and throwing progressions while La Stella (Achilles) has been taking ground balls, running and hitting.

Zaidi said Heliot Ramos, who made his MLB debut earlier this season, is “certainly an option” but he’s a righty.

“I think we’re going to talk through it and figure out who the best fit is,” Zaidi said. “But again, the way we manage the roster, it’s nice to be able to replace a left-handed bat with another left-handed bat. A lot of the things we talked about with Ramos, it was great seeing him up earlier. But not sure we want to bring him up to be in sort of a part-time role. I think the next time he comes up, we want him to be in a situation where he can get everyday at-bats. That’ll factor into the decision we make on this roster spot as well.”

Against Corbin on Friday, the Giants will engage in a bullpen game as they’re down one starter in Cobb. Zaidi sees Cory Abbott, whom SF traded cash considerations to the Cubs for on Thursday, as a possible factor on the staff at some point. Giants general manager Scott Harris was running the Cubs when they selected the pitcher in the second round of the 2017 Draft and Zaidi said Abbott was high on his board at the time, too — when Zaidi was with the Dodgers.

In the Abbott trade, San Francisco designated outfielder Jaylin Davis for assignment. Zaidi praised Davis for his personality and talent, but added “health and opportunity haven’t always synced up” for him with the Giants, who have had strong outfield depth.

But in the near future, the Giants will have some decisions to make. The injuries piling up are making them difficult already.