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Luis González unlikely to be ready for Opening Day as back flares up



Courtesy of SF Giants

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Luis González, a breakout outfielder for the Giants last year, likely won’t be ready for Opening Day this season.

Giants manager Gabe Kapler told reporters Sunday that González, 27, is dealing with a back injury. Kapler said it’s similar to the lower back sprain that González dealt with last year, just in a different spot. More details from the team are expected soon.

“It’s going to be a little bit,” Kapler said. “He’s not likely to be ready to start the season for us.”

The Giants acquired González from the White Sox, who decided to release him when he needed offseason shoulder surgery. San Francisco paid him to rehab, and then the outfielder surged during last spring training and joined the big-league club in late April.

González was named National League Rookie of the Month last May when he hit .368 with a home run, seven doubles, three steals and 13 RBI. He was the first Giant to earn the distinction since Buster Posey in 2010.

Overall, González hit .254 with a .683 OPS in 2022. His production tailed off as the wear-and-tear of his first full season appeared to catch up to him.

Breaking camp would’ve been a challenge for González independent of health. San Francisco added Mitch Haniger and Michael Conforto this offseason, and they’re both expected to be part of the everyday outfield mix.

Conforto is leading off and serving as SF’s designated hitter in Sunday’s Cactus League home opener. Because he injured his shoulder during the 2022 offseason lockout, this will be his first live game action since Oct. 3, 2021 — the Mets’ season finale.

The outfielder has been ramping up his throwing progression, and Kapler said he’s physically capable of playing the field now and will man a corner soon.