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Longoria's return crucial for ailing Giants

Bochy planning to attend Hall of Fame ceremony in Cooperstown
MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants went 18-16 while Evan Longoria was recovering from a fractured left hand sustained on June 14. Nine of those losses were by the most excruciating of margins: one run.

Yes, the Giants managed to compete throughout the 34-game stretch without their three-time All-Star third baseman. But at the time of his injury, Longoria led the team in RBIs and extra-base hits and was second in home runs. A three-time Gold Glover, Longoria's presence is one that makes a difference in a one-run game.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants went 18-16 while Evan Longoria was recovering from a fractured left hand sustained on June 14. Nine of those losses were by the most excruciating of margins: one run.

Yes, the Giants managed to compete throughout the 34-game stretch without their three-time All-Star third baseman. But at the time of his injury, Longoria led the team in RBIs and extra-base hits and was second in home runs. A three-time Gold Glover, Longoria's presence is one that makes a difference in a one-run game.

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Longoria eschewed a fifth rehab game to play in the series opener, then calmly collected two hits and scored a run in his return, a 7-5 Giants loss to the Brewers.

"I feel good," Longoria said. "Obviously I've been thinking about coming back for the last week and a half, two weeks. So to finally be able to be back out there was nice. It's tough to lose, but just happy to be back."

"To come in and get two hits right away shows you what kind of player he is," manager Bruce Bochy added.

For those who forgot about Longoria in his 34 games on the mend, Bochy was there to remind you. He's the player who was on pace for nearly 25 home runs and over 80 RBIs before going on the DL. He's a vital part of the Giants lineup, one that hopes to sustain its heartbeat without a crucial piece of its infrastructure with Brandon Belt on the disabled list.

Longoria will assume the everyday role at third base, letting Pablo Sandoval slide across the diamond to first. Bochy figures to give Buster Posey and Austin Slater time at first as well.

The Giants, back at .500 for the first time since June 23, will lean heavily on Longoria in the coming weeks.

"We need him now," Bochy said.

Bochy expecting to go to Hall of Fame induction
If all goes as planned, Bochy will attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y., on Sunday. Bochy, of course, managed 2018 inductee Trevor Hoffman in San Diego from '95-'06. Another inductee, Alan Trammell, was a member of Bochy's coaching staff.

Bochy is hoping to take a red-eye flight out of San Francisco after the Giants' game on Saturday night, and would miss the game on Sunday.

"With me gone Sunday, it tells you how much this means to me," Bochy said. "I'm hopeful all goes well and I can make it, and I'm thankful for the support I've gotten from Larry Baer, Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans to attend this."

Asked for his favorite memory of Hoffman, Bochy reminisced about the National League West division race in 1996.

"The three consecutive games he saved against L.A. to win the division in '96," Bochy said. "That was just an amazing weekend there and a moment I'll always remember with him, getting that last one to win the division."

Martin Oppegaard is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter at @MartinOppegaard.

San Francisco Giants, Evan Longoria