Belt (knee) appears likely to avoid surgery

June 29th, 2021

LOS ANGELES -- ’s visit with Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Monday yielded encouraging news for the Giants.

Manager Gabe Kapler said Belt has “minimal structural damage” in his right knee, spurring optimism that the 33-year-old first baseman will be able to rehab the injury and avoid surgery. Belt is expected to seek a third opinion, from Dr. Timothy McAdams at Stanford on Wednesday, before finalizing a decision on his course of treatment.

“We’re still hopeful that this is going to be a rehab situation,” Kapler said before the Giants’ series opener at Dodger Stadium. “He feels much better today.”

Belt suffered the injury while running the bases in the Giants’ 9-3 loss at Angel Stadium on Wednesday. He attempted to score from third base on a throwing error, but he pulled up gingerly as he was tagged out at home plate and was subsequently removed from the game. The Giants placed Belt on the 10-day injured list with right knee inflammation on Friday.

Kapler acknowledged that there were initial surgery concerns with Belt, who also underwent a microfracture procedure on his right knee in 2018, but those fears were assuaged following the veteran infielder’s consultation with ElAttrache.

“We all saw it as positive news,” Kapler said. “Maybe the timeline isn’t as ominous if there’s no surgical procedure.”

Belt, who will be eligible for free agency at the end of the season, is batting .253 with an .875 OPS and 11 home runs over 55 games this season. LaMonte Wade Jr., who batted leadoff against right-hander Trevor Bauer on Monday, and Darin Ruf have formed a platoon at first base and filled in nicely while Belt has been out, but the prospect of getting Belt’s bat in the lineup for a potential stretch run would undoubtedly be a boon for the first-place Giants.

“If you’d asked me before the season, who I would bet on to have a great season right in the middle of our lineup, I would have probably said Brandon Belt because of his track record and because of how dependable he was last year,” Kapler said. “Knowing that that’s a possibility, that we have that caliber of player back and get to insert him right back into the middle of our lineup is uplifting. Again, I’m trying to stay measured about that because I think there’s one more step in the process here.”