Giants walk off after losing Lee to shoulder injury

May 13th, 2024

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants’ injury woes took a turn for the worse on Sunday.

Less than an hour after placing Michael Conforto on the 10-day injured list with a right hamstring strain and scratching Patrick Bailey from the starting lineup with a viral illness, the Giants lost center fielder to a dislocated left shoulder, a blow that cast a pall on the club’s 6-5 walk-off win over the Reds in 10 innings at Oracle Park.

Lee, who returned to action for the first time since fouling a ball off his left foot on Wednesday, injured himself after crashing into the center-field fence while attempting to catch Jeimer Candelario’s bases-clearing double off Kyle Harrison in the first inning.

Lee immediately grabbed his left shoulder after going down and didn’t get up for several minutes, with fellow outfielders Mike Yastrzemski and Heliot Ramos quickly calling for team trainers to run out from the dugout to check on him. Lee eventually got up and departed the game, but he didn’t appear to be moving his left arm, which was held by head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner as he walked off the field.

Manager Bob Melvin said Lee will undergo an MRI exam on Monday to determine the severity of the injury.

"Not great," Melvin said. "When he hit the wall and he went down and didn't get up, I didn't have a great feeling about it."

Tyler Fitzgerald entered the game to replace Lee, who entered Sunday batting .262 with a .641 OPS and two homers in 36 games since joining the Giants on a six-year, $113 million deal over the offseason.

Lee is the sixth Giants position player to go down in the last week, joining Conforto, Jorge Soler (right shoulder strain), Tom Murphy (left knee sprain), Nick Ahmed (left wrist sprain) and Austin Slater (concussion). With Lee likely heading for the IL, the Giants could promote No. 1 prospect Marco Luciano, who is one of the only callup options remaining on the 40-man roster. Another possibility would be to recall catcher Jakson Reetz and give Blake Sabol more playing time in the outfield.

“We’re going through it right now,” Melvin said. “Sometimes it happens in bunches. It seems like that’s the case at this point.”

The Giants managed to overcome Lee’s absence on Sunday, as Harrison rebounded from his erratic opening frame and held the Reds scoreless over his final four innings, giving San Francisco’s bats a chance to rally behind a five-run fifth inning that was highlighted by LaMonte Wade Jr.’s towering two-run shot off Reds right-hander Frankie Montas.

Wade’s second homer of the year would have only gone out at Oracle Park, as the 321-foot blast barely cleared the bricks in right field and had a launch angle of 50 degrees, tied for the highest on an over-the-wall home run since Statcast began tracking in 2015. The others were Xander Bogaerts for the Red Sox on Aug. 13, 2021, and J.D. Martinez with the Tigers on May 15, 2015.

The Reds pulled within one on Jake Fraley’s RBI single in the seventh and then tied the game on Mike Ford’s solo shot in the eighth, but the Giants came back to win in extra innings.

Sabol drew a two-out walk to put a pair of runners on for Casey Schmitt, who ended the game in the bottom of the 10th by driving an 0-2 fastball from Lucas Sims over the head of left fielder Spencer Steer to score automatic runner Luis Matos from second and collect his first career walk-off hit.

“It’s great to win a game when you have a lot of bad news during the course of it,” Melvin said. “A lot of the younger guys are getting opportunities and came through. Obviously, that’s huge for Schmitty right there.”

The injury news wasn’t entirely bad on Sunday, as left-hander Blake Snell struck out seven over four perfect innings in his first rehab start with Single-A San Jose. Snell tossed an immaculate inning in the first and ended up punching out seven of the first eight batters he faced in the 46-pitch outing.

Snell, who has been out since April 19 with a left adductor strain, will likely need to make at least one more start in the Minors before the Giants consider folding him back into their starting rotation.

San Francisco might have to wait longer to get its lineup back to full strength, putting the onus on young hitters like Schmitt, Ramos, Matos and Brett Wisely to continue to provide a boost in the interim.

“It doesn’t matter who we have out there, we’ve got to fight,” Harrison said. “Even when we have everyone, we’ve got to fight. I think the mentality stays the same. We’ve got good guys here in the clubhouse, and we’re meshing well now.”