SAN FRANCISCO -- A trio of Giants who had been absent from the first two weeks of Summer Camp received clearance to report to Oracle Park this week.
Madero tested positive for COVID-19 during the Giants’ intake screening process and gave the club permission to disclose his result. The 23-year-old received the green light to return after producing two negative tests at least 24 hours apart, in accordance with Major League Baseball’s health and safety protocols. Hamilton and García had been placed on the injured list for “medical purposes.”
With Opening Day only a week away, manager Gabe Kapler said it would be unrealistic to expect the late-arriving players to be ready in time to play against the Dodgers on July 23.
"We're going to build them up slowly, understanding that the best way to prevent injury from our perspective is a nice, slow progression,” Kapler said. “We're not going to rush either one of them. We're going to reevaluate after today when Billy hits and throws. We'll do the same with Madero as he continues to build his arm strength.”
Madero, who was claimed off waivers from the Angels in January, was seen as more of a prospect since he hasn’t pitched above Double-A, but Hamilton and García were expected to be part of the Giants’ outfield and bullpen mix, respectively.
Hamilton, who joined the Giants on a Minor League deal, is the most experienced center fielder in the Giants’ player pool and possesses elite speed that could allow him to contribute as a pinch-runner or late-inning defensive replacement, especially with rosters expanding to 30 players for the first two weeks of the regular season. While Hamilton could likely impact the game with his glove and speed alone, Kapler said the Giants won’t consider adding him to their roster until he has the opportunity to complete a running and hitting program.
“I think one of the things that we know is that building up legs is just as important as building up arm strength and just as important as building up number of swings,” Kapler said. “Anything that you do explosive on a baseball field, if you don’t have the right buildup and the ramp-up, you put your body at risk.”
With Hamilton likely to be unavailable for the start of the season, the Giants have been evaluating several alternative center-field options in camp, including Steven Duggar, Mauricio Dubón, Mike Yastrzemski, Austin Slater and Jaylin Davis.
García, who was claimed off waivers from the Marlins in February, was on track for a spot in the Giants’ bullpen after striking out eight over five scoreless innings in six Cactus League appearances this spring. Wandy Peralta is now likely to open the season as a second late-inning lefty reliever behind Tony Watson on the Giants’ Opening Day roster.
• Third baseman Evan Longoria has missed the Giants’ last two intrasquad games with a moderate right oblique strain that he sustained on a swing. Kapler said Longoria is considered day to day, though any setback could jeopardize his chances of being ready for the Giants’ season opener next week. Wilmer Flores, Pablo Sandoval, Donovan Solano and Yolmer Sánchez are potential third-base options if Longoria is unavailable.
• Brandon Belt (sore heel) took ground balls at first base, hit in the cage and ran on an indoor treadmill on Thursday. Kapler said he is “progressing nicely at this point” and still has a shot to be ready by Opening Day.
• Sánchez experienced an injury scare when he was struck on the left knee by a pitch from left-hander Tyler Anderson in the first inning of Thursday’s intrasquad game at Oracle Park. Sánchez initially hobbled off the field with a trainer, but he was cleared to return to the game and play shortstop as scheduled in the bottom of the first.
“We didn’t feel any concerns about putting him at risk after talking to our medical staff,” Kapler said. “He was able to finish his work for the day just fine.”