SAN FRANCISCO -- The injury-ravaged Giants were dealt perhaps their biggest blow of the season after third baseman Evan Longoria landed on the injured list with a left shoulder sprain on Sunday.
Longoria is expected to miss four to six weeks, leaving a significant void at third base for the Giants, who now have 15 players on the IL. Longoria suffered the injury after colliding with shortstop Brandon Crawford while trying to field a grounder in the top of the ninth inning of the club’s 4-3 win over the Cubs on Saturday.
Replacing Longoria won’t be easy, as the 35-year-old veteran was in the midst of a resurgent campaign with the Giants, batting .280 with an .892 OPS and nine home runs over 50 games this year.
“It’s very difficult,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “It was an emotional time after the game for Longo, and for all of us. He was swinging the bat very well. He was very patient at the plate, playing great defense. He’s one of the core pieces and leaders on this club. It’s going to be a major challenge to fill his shoes. I’m not sure we’re going to have anybody step right in and do what he was doing. At the same time, we have to turn the page and get ready to compete. That’s what we’re going to do.”
Kapler said Wilmer Flores and Jason Vosler will be options to fill in at third while Longoria is down, along with Thairo Estrada, who was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento on Sunday. Estrada, 25, was acquired from the Yankees in exchange for cash considerations in April and was off to a scintillating start for the River Cats, batting .381 with a 1.063 OPS and six home runs over 25 games this season.
“He’s swinging the bat really well at Triple-A,” Kapler said. “In fact, he’s done a really nice job of not chasing. It’s a good trend in the right direction. He’s driving the baseball. He’s also available to play all over the diamond for us: second base, shortstop, third base and the corners in the outfield. He offers us a good versatile option off the bench.”
Giants acquire Maxwell
The Giants bolstered their organizational catching depth by acquiring former A’s backstop Bruce Maxwell from the Mets in a Minor League trade on Sunday. Maxwell, 30, is expected to report to Double-A Richmond, as Flying Squirrels catcher Andres Angulo is playing for Colombia in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics qualifier.
“I think the Maxwell acquisition was to improve our depth,” Kapler said. “Obviously, he goes to Double-A for us, so he’s a ways away from this level. At the same time, it’s always good to have as many catchers in the organization as possible.”
In 2017, Maxwell became the first Major League player to take a knee during the national anthem to protest systemic racism and police brutality in America. Last year, Kapler and several Giants players joined the movement after George Floyd was killed in police custody in Minneapolis.
“I always respect somebody who stands up for what they believe in,” Kapler said. “This is actually kind of independent of Maxwell and his situation. I always encourage players and staff to use their platforms to peacefully protest.”