Giants center fielder Steven Duggar left yesterday’s game against the Mets in the second inning after feeling soreness in his left oblique area. After the game, manager Gabe Kapler indicated Duggar was likely to wind up on the injured list, a sentiment echoed by president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi.
During an appearance on KNBR radio in San Francisco (h/t to KNBR’s Danny Emerman), Zaidi said Duggar was headed for an MRI today but conceded early indications are “that’s an injury that usually puts a guy on the sidelines for a few weeks.” It’s not uncommon for oblique strains to require a month or more of recovery. The team will know more about the severity of Duggar’s injury and be able to provide a more specific timetable for his return once the imaging results come back.
Duggar has been San Francisco’s primary center fielder this season, starting 11 of their first 13 games. Like many of his teammates, the 28-year-old had a quietly solid showing in 2021, when he hit .257/.330/.437 with eight homers and seven stolen bases over 297 plate appearances. That offensive production was reliant on a probably unsustainable .355 batting average on balls in play, though, with Duggar’s 29.6% strikeout rate and 73.4% contact percentage raising questions about his ability to continue producing at an above-average level.
The Giants were confident enough in his abilities not to bring in external center field help this past offseason. Duggar had gotten off to a slow start to the year, collecting just seven hits in 36 at-bats with two walks and 16 strikeouts. His efforts to work through that rough stretch will be put on hold, with the Giants looking for other options to cover the position in his absence.
The immediate replacement seems as if it’ll be Luis González, as Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reports (on Twitter) the Giants are planning to select González onto the big league club. San Francisco claimed the 26-year-old off release waivers from the White Sox last August. González was on the minor league injured list at the time, and the Giants stashed him on the major league 60-day IL for the remainder of the season. By doing so, they added a player whom Baseball America had named a top 15 prospect in the Chicago farm system each year from 2018-21. That required paying him an MLB salary for the season’s final couple weeks, but the Giants evidently valued him enough to do so if it meant bringing him to the organization.
San Francisco non-tendered González at the start of the offseason, when teams are required to activate players from the IL and carry them on the 40-man roster. They quickly brought him back on a minor league deal, and he’s gotten off to a .283/.389/.500 start in 11 games with Triple-A Sacramento.
González only has nine games of big league experience under his belt, but he’s a .267/.346/.416 hitter in the minors. He can cover all three outfield spots and adds a left-handed bat to replace the lefty-swinging Duggar. The healthy center field options on San Francisco’s 40-man roster — Austin Slater, Luke Williams, Mauricio Dubón and prospect Heliot Ramos — all hit right-handed, and Zaidi spoke on KNBR about his desire to get another left-handed option in the mix for Kapler. The lefty-hitting LaMonte Wade Jr. is on the IL due to left knee inflammation; he’s set to begin a rehab assignment with Sacramento today, and the team won’t reinstate him earlier than anticipated in response to Duggar’s injury (via Andrew Baggarly of the Athletic).
The Giants’ baseball ops leader also downplayed the possibility of recalling Ramos, who tallied seven plate appearances over four games during his first call-up earlier this season. “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,” Zaidi said of the 22-year-old. “I think the next time he comes up, we want him to be in a situation where he can get everyday at-bats.”
For now, it seems the Giants are content to rotate a few players through center field based on match-ups. González isn’t yet on the 40-man roster, so there’ll be another move forthcoming to accommodate his selection.
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