The Giants’ already injury-riddled outfield took another hit Friday, as the team announced Gregor Blanco had been diagnosed with a concussion.
Officially, Blanco is listed as day-to-day, but manager Bruce Bochy said before Friday’s game against the Padres that Blanco is “going to be down for a while.” That raises a very real possibility that Blanco’s season is over – the Giants have just 22 games left, and it’s unlikely they would rush Blanco back with the door closing quickly on their slim playoff chances.
Blanco went on the seven-day concussion disabled list in June. But Bochy said the outfielder thought his most recent symptoms arose from a slide last week in Los Angeles, when Blanco hit his head against a Dodgers infielder. Blanco then complained of symptoms in Arizona.
“He said he hadn’t been feeling great,” Bochy said. “But it seemed to have gotten worse on him.”
That leaves Bochy very short-handed in the outfield, with Nori Aoki (concussion) and Hunter Pence (oblique) already out. Bochy has Alejandro De Aza starting in left field Friday night and Juan Perez on the bench as a backup option. The Giants also recalled Jarrett Parker to have another left-handed hitter and outfielder on the bench.
Bochy acknowledged before the game that it’s possible Blanco, Aoki and Pence have all played for the last time this season.
“We’re down to three weeks (left) and that’s a possibility,” Bochy said. “Our hope is they are (going to be back). It’d be nice to have them back here, for us, for the fans, everybody – just to have the full squad out there before the season is over. But you know it’s getting short now. So that does become a question at this point.”
Bochy said it’s “fair to say” the Giants would be more careful bringing back Blanco and Aoki – given they’re dealing with head injuries – than with Pence, if Pence did recover to the point where he could play. But Bochy said there’s still no timetable on that because Pence hasn’t even swung a bat to test his oblique.
“I know Hunter wants to come back and is going to do all he can to come back before the season is over,” Bochy said. “Until he starts swinging a bat, though, I can’t really give you any kind of target date with him.”
As for the middle infield, Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik are “both pretty sore,” Bochy said. Crawford is likely closer to playing – Bochy put him at “day-to-day,” saying that his sore left calf is “doing better.” But Panik’s back has flared up again and Bochy said he’s “not able to do too much right now.”
Bochy was able to field a lineup for Friday night’s game – thanks, September callups – but he called the Giants’ injury epidemic “really remarkable.”
“It became a rash of injuries that I never imagined we would have this many, particularly at this point,” Bochy said.
It’s somewhat remarkable the Giants are still in playoff contention, though their recent 3-7 trip largely deflated those hopes. They enter Friday’s game trailing the Dodgers by 8½ games in the National League West and trailing the Cubs by 91/2 games for the second wild-card spot. Bochy addressed the Giants’ standing:
“We’re breathing. You never know what can happen. You win a few games, get some momentum going, some mojo going, and we get a little help, things can change. That’s how we have to look at it – the fact that we’re still alive. Sure, it’s going to take some great play on our part. And it’s going to take a little help.”
The Giants did get one player back from the DL on Friday – as expected, they activated right-hander Matt Cain, who will go to the bullpen for now. Bochy said it’s possible that Cain could make another start before the season is over, but overall: “I just want to see a healthy Matty out there throwing the ball the way he can.”
Cain, who was pitching out of the bullpen during his rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento, said he’s open to any role down the stretch.
Jake Peavy, who pitched for the Padres from 2002-09, will be looking for his first career win against his former team Friday night. He has only pitched twice against the Padres, and is 0-1 with an ERA of 5.00.
The Giants’ lineup behind Peavy:
LF De Aza
And the Padres’ lineup: