The Giants reinstated Evan Longoria from the injured list, bringing their team to as close to full strength as it’s been all year.
Longoria, 36, spent two weeks on the injured list with a hamstring strain he suffered running down the first-base line in Los Angeles. In 49 games this season, the veteran has hit .243 with nine home runs and a .790 OPS.
In a corresponding move, the Giants optioned center fielder Bryce Johnson back to Triple-A. Johnson was up to provide athleticism and push Mike Yastrzemski and Austin Slater to the corners more frequently, but went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
Longoria’s return allows the Giants to play their projected starting infield of Longoria, Brandon Crawford, Thairo Estrada and Brandon Belt. Due to various injuries, that quartet has manned the infield together just five times this season.
San Francisco won’t immediately go with that alignment, with Longoria serving as designated hitter in his first game back. Wilmer Flores will play first against left-handed starter Blake Snell, with J.D. Davis at third.
Some continuity could help the Giants improve their defense, which has been the biggest thing holding them back. Expected contributors remaining on San Francisco’s injured list are now just relievers Zack Littell and José Álvarez and starter Anthony DeSclafani, who will miss the remainder of the season.
A mostly healthy Giants unit hit six home runs across two games in Oakland last weekend, portending promising results to come with Longoria. Health is paramount to the “hot two weeks” the Giants are hoping for to get them back in the playoff hunt.
Entering a three-game series in San Diego, the Giants are 6.5 games out of a wild card spot and claim a 5% chance at reaching the postseason, per Fangraphs.