SAN FRANCISCO – LaMonte Wade Jr.’s season debut with the Giants is on hold for at least a few more days.
Manager Gabe Kapler said Wednesday before the second game of the Bay Bridge Series at Oracle Park with the A’s that Wade, who had been dealing with knee inflammation, will gradually increase his activity with Triple-A Sacramento before returning to the Giants.
Kapler said the Giants would like to have Wade spend some time at first base, play in complete games, and on back-to-back days before he makes his return.
Kapler said it’s a possibility that Wade will play first base when he does return to the big leagues, which might not happen before the Giants end their homestand Sunday against the Washington Nationals.
“Sometimes necessity changes timelines, but we’ll always put the health and the well-being of our players first,” Kapler said.
Wade went 0-for-2 with a walk as he played four innings in left field with Sacramento on Saturday against Oklahoma City. Tuesday against Albuquerque, Wade returned to left field and went 1-for-1 with a walk and an RBI. Wade was the River Cats’ designated hitter on Wednesday night.
With Wade out due to the knee injury, Steven Duggar on the 60-day injured list with an oblique strain, and Mike Yastrzemski on the COVID-injured list, the Giants’ left-handed-hitting depth in the outfield has been tested in a significant way during the first month of the season.
Given Farhan Zaidi’s impressive ability to create depth at the top levels of the organization, it should come as no surprise the Giants have handled the test fairly well.
Free-agent signee and Palo Alto native Joc Pederson, who agreed to a one-year, $6 million deal with the Giants this spring, entered Tuesday with six home runs, putting him in a three-way tie for second on the major league leaderboard behind Yankees’ first baseman Anthony Rizzo (eight).
Giants fans knew all about Pederson’s slugging ability prior to his signing because of his six-plus year tenure with the Dodgers, but they’ve been pleasantly surprised of late by the contributions of 26-year-old rookie Luis González, who launched the go-ahead, two-run home run in the team’s 4-2 victory over the Brewers on Monday.
Like so many other key Giants contributors during Zaidi’s tenure, González’s acquisition flew under the radar as the club added him on a waiver claim from the Chicago White Sox last summer after the Mexico native had undergone season-ending shoulder surgery.
González was on the Giants’ 40-man roster just four days before he was transferred to the 60-day injured list on August 15, which required San Francisco to pay him a major league salary for the remainder of the season. The move paid dividends in the offseason when González re-signed with the Giants on a minor league deal, enabling him to come to major league spring training where he immediately impressed Kapler and the coaching staff.
Though González started the year in Triple-A, his spring performance suggested he would play a role in helping the Giants at some point during the regular season. And due to three early injured list placements for left-handed hitting outfielders, that time came far sooner than even Zaidi and Kapler likely expected.
While it’s unclear what González’s role will look like once Wade and Yastrzemski return from the injured list, his impressive all-around skill set has helped the Giants maintain their hot start to the season.
ABOUT YAZ: Kapler said Yastrzemski is feeling better and that he could start taking PCR tests again Friday.
Per MLB’s COVID-19 protocols, players can return 10 days after a positive test or if they can provide two negative PCR tests, provided they are symptom-free and have the approval to return from MLB’s joint medical committee. Yastrzemski first tested positive on Sunday.
OTHER MEDICAL UPDATES: Kapler said there’s a loose timeline for infielder Tommy La Stella (Achilles surgery) to begin a rehab assignment next week. Third baseman Evan Longoria (finger), who was throwing across the diamond before Wednesday’s game, could begin his own rehab assignment shortly after.
WAIVER CLAIM: The Giants claimed left-hander Darien Núñez off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Núñez will be optioned to Triple-A Sacramento, the Giants said.
Staff writer Kerry Crowley contributed to this report.