SAN FRANCISCO -- Austin Slater was on the verge of overcoming an elbow issue that limited him to designated hitter duties, but a second injury will now further delay his return to the Giants’ outfield.
San Francisco placed Slater on the 10-day injured list with a left groin strain and recalled outfielder Steven Duggar from the alternate training site in Sacramento on Saturday.
Slater sustained the injury in the first inning of the Giants’ 6-2 win over the D-backs on Friday at Oracle Park. After drawing a leadoff walk from Arizona left-hander Robbie Ray, Slater appeared to tweak his groin while going from second to third base on a single by Mike Yastrzemski.
Athletic trainer Dave Groeschner came out to check on Slater, who subsequently left the game. Darin Ruf replaced Slater at third as a pinch-runner and remained in the game at the DH spot.
The setback is a disappointing development for Slater, who was also dealing with a right elbow flexor strain that had prevented him from playing the outfield since the club’s series in Houston last week. The universal DH enabled the Giants to continue to carry Slater on the roster, even though he was unavailable to play defense. Slater had progressed nicely in his throwing program and might have been cleared to return to the outfield on Saturday, according to manager Gabe Kapler.
“It’s tough,” Kapler said. “I felt really bad for Slater. Obviously he’s worked so hard to keep his body in peak physical condition. I know how frustrating it is to have one injury, to be almost all the way back and ready to be in the lineup and then to have something else happen. It’s tough for the club, but even tougher for Slater. I talked to him this morning. I know he’s going to work hard to get completely healthy and be back as soon as possible.”
Slater, 27, has emerged as one of the Giants’ breakout hitters this year, batting .347 with a 1.111 OPS, four home runs and six stolen bases over 19 games.
Top prospect Joey Bart received a day off Saturday after starting each of his first two games in the Majors. Fellow rookie Chadwick Tromp started behind the plate and caught left-hander Tyler Anderson. Kapler said he wanted to be mindful of Bart’s workload to help preserve his stamina for the rest of the regular season.
“For me, this is strictly like, ‘Keep Joey Bart as strong as possible for the long haul,’ knowing that he hasn’t caught back-to-back games at the Major League level and that’s going to take a toll,” Kapler said. “In my mind, he starts tomorrow’s game and then we have a scheduled off-day [Monday]. I think at that point, his volume is built up enough to where we can start to roll him out there even more consistently.”
Bart, 23, is 2-for-7 with a pair of doubles in two games with the Giants. He showed off his impressive power to the opposite field on Friday, crushing a 103.4 mph double off the bricks in right field in the second inning. Bart is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the 15th-best prospect in baseball.
“It’s not fair for everybody how he hits the ball that hard,” teammate Mauricio Dubón said Saturday. “It’s crazy how he’s so talented and so young at the same time. He’s going to be here for a long time, and I’m excited for it.”
Reliever Sam Coonrod (right lat strain) emerged from his simulated game at Oracle Park on Friday without issue and is close to returning to the Giants’ bullpen.
“His velocity was strong,” Kapler said. “He came out looking healthy. We’re still evaluating and discussing when we will activate him.”