SAN FRANCISCO -- The A’s activated outfielder Nori Aoki from the disabled list prior to Monday night’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers. Aoki had missed 28 games while recovering from a fractured fibula suffered when he was hit by a pitch in Los Angeles on June 20.
Aoki was in the Giants’ lineup playing left field and batting eighth Monday night. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said the decision to re-insert Aoki -- who was leading off before his injury -- in the No. 8 spot involved a couple of factors.
While Bochy said Aoki assured him he feels fine running, there’s a greater chance Aoki would be active on the basepaths -- whether stealing or on a hit-and-run -- in the leadoff spot, and Bochy said he’d prefer to ease Aoki back into the running game.
More importantly, though, the Giants are on one of their hottest streaks of the season -- having won 11 of 12 games -- and Bochy doesn’t want to mess with a good thing. Angel Pagan has done his best hitting out of the leadoff spot this year and is 17 for his last 54 overall with 10 runs scored.
"I said (to Aoki) I don’t want to break up what’s going on with the batting order, Angel’s doing a good job leading off, let’s not change the batting order right now," Bochy said. "This’ll give him a chance to kind of get settled in and maybe not run quite as much."
To clear a roster spot for Aoki, the Giants designated backup infielder Joaquin Arias for assignment. Though a quiet presence in the clubhouse, Arias has appeared in at least 102 games in each of the past three seasons for the Giants and offered the versatility of being able to play all four infield positions. He had played in just 40 games this season and was hitting .209.
"Very difficult decision," Bochy said. "Really Joaquin has been part of us through our success, spent a lot of time here and done a real nice job for us."
The consistency of the Giants’ regular infielders and Bochy’s use of Justin Maxwell as a pinch-hitter against left-handers cut down on Arias’ playing time, and Bochy said he and the Giants feel comfortable going with one backup infielder in Ehire Adrianza.
In effect, the Giants chose Adrianza over Arias -- after making the opposite decision out of spring training, when they designated Adrianza for assignment in order to have a spot for Matt Duffy. That time, Adrianza cleared waivers and remained in the Giants’ system. He then went to Triple-A Sacramento and batted .316 before being recalled -- and Bochy said he isn’t sure Adrianza would have passed through waivers again.
"We really didn’t want to take a chance on losing him," Bochy said. "Now that he’s put up some good numbers at Triple-A, I don’t think he would have cleared."
The return of Aoki allowed Bochy to write out a lineup at full strength, which he’s rarely done this season. It went: Pagan CF, Panik 2B, Duffy 3B, Posey C, Pence RF, Belt 1B, Crawford SS, Aoki LF -- with right-hander Chris Heston on the mound as the Giants tried to move 11 games above .500 for the first time in 2015.