Angel Pagan said his right knee has bothered him since last season, when he banged it on the ground while sliding in the outfield. The Giants center fielder has dealt with pain in both knees this season, but over the past week, his nagging right knee became too much of a hindrance to ignore.
The Giants put their center fielder on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with right patella tendinitis, an issue that has affected Pagan both at the plate and in the outfield. Pagan had just one at-bat in the Giants’ three-game series in Atlanta last week. He started three of four games the next series in Chicago but continued to feel discomfort.
Pagan said he received a platelet-rich plasma shot in his knee Monday, hoping to speed the healing process and limit the amount of time he’ll miss. The PRP treatment can sideline a player for as long as a week, and Giants manager Bruce Bochy said the team didn’t want to play a man short while waiting for Pagan to heal.
The Giants recalled outfielder Juan Perez from Triple-A Sacramento to take Pagan’s spot on the roster, and Bochy said Gregor Blanco will get most of the playing time in center field in Pagan’s absence.
When healthy, Pagan can be one of the Giants’ most dynamic players. But following a strong offensive start this season – he was batting .305 at the end of May – his average has dipped to .258 and his power has almost disappeared. Advanced metrics rank Pagan among the worst defensive center fielders in the majors this season, and his mobility has been noticeably affected.
“I think I know him really since we’ve gotten him, and I think at times he was going out there when he wasn’t 100 percent,” Bochy said. “I think it affected his defense, too.”
Pagan said he has tried to maintain “my 100 percent” effort despite the knee issues. He acknowledged he would love to be more productive, but “I can’t be frustrated, because I’m giving it all. That’s all I can do, that’s all I have in control.”
The right knee is on Pagan’s plant leg when he’s hitting left-handed, and his batting average from the left side this season is .239. He has not hit a home run in his last 171 games, and his .598 on-base plus slugging average this year is the lowest of his career. Asked whether the knee has affected him more hitting or on defense, Pagan said he think it’s “a little bit of both.”
“I can use my experience to position myself in the outfield and try to get to balls a little easier,” Pagan said. “In terms of hitting, if you don’t have your legs, the only thing you have are your hands. You lose a lot of your power. You can still get your base hits. But sometimes people talk about homers – which I don’t care about, but I haven’t been able to hit a homer because I have no legs.”
Pagan will rest for several days following the PRP injection. He said has remained “pretty positive” and intends to return for the Giants down the stretch.
“It’s the best thing for Angel, for us,” Bochy said of the DL move. “It gives him time to make sure he’s ready when he comes back.”
The Giants are hurting in several areas. Bochy said second baseman Joe Panik, who is on the DL with lower back inflammation, most likely will not be ready to return when eligible Monday. Panik has not resumed baseball activities, and Bochy said the team plans to “back him off this week,” after which Panik could begin swinging a bat.
Bochy had more encouraging news about right-hander Mike Leake, who landed on the DL with a left hamstring strain after just one start for the Giants. Leake threw a bullpen session Tuesday and “could barely feel” the hamstring, said Bochy, who is hopeful Leake will return when he is eligible next Tuesday.
Nori Aoki, who left Sunday’s game after being hit on the head with a pitch, passed his concussion tests and was available off the bench Tuesday. Aoki said his headache had gone away within several hours of leaving the game, and he joked about the battery of tests he’d gone through during the Giants’ day off Monday.
“It was really long,” Aoki said through an interpreter. “I probably got a concussion from the concussion tests.”