Gennett starts at 2nd, 'new role' for Panik

Longoria could return Sunday; Austin designated for assignment

August 3rd, 2019

DENVER -- donned a Giants uniform for the first time Friday night as he prepared to start at second base and hit sixth in the lineup for the weekend series opener vs. the Rockies at Coors Field. He went 1-for-4 with an eighth-inning double and threw out a runner at the plate in his Giants debut, a 5-4 loss to Colorado.

It's been a strange season for Gennett in more ways than one. Coming off a breakout campaign in which he hit .310/.357/.490 and slugged 23 home runs in 2018, earning his first career All-Star selection, Gennett missed the first three months of this season due to a groin injury.

From June 28, when the Reds activated him, up to his acquisition by the Giants prior to Wednesday's 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline, he was hitting just .217 (15-for-69) with three extra-base hits and 20 strikeouts.

Then, in what was, unbeknownst to him, his final game with his hometown Reds, Gennett and teammates were involved in a wild melee with the Pirates at Great American Ball Park on Tuesday.

And then, of course, he was traded for the first time in his career.

"I found out about 4:05 p.m. [five minutes after the Trade Deadline], got all packed, and guys were about to get on the bus for Atlanta," Gennett said. "I was called in and told I was a San Francisco Giant now."

Gennett said his early struggles since getting back into the lineup are, in part, due to the fact that it's like the end of Spring Training for him, since that's when he got hurt.

"Obviously not midseason form," Gennett said. "That was the first time in my career I was out that long, and I had higher expectations, to come back and do well right away, and it just didn't work out that way. I learned a lot, not only about the game but about myself.

"... It ended up working out really well. I feel good, I feel like I'm hitting pitches where I should. That's the biggest thing for me, that if I'm getting an outside pitch, I'm not rolling it over to second base. Just lately, I've been going with those pitches. Just certain signs of coming back."

If "coming back" even remotely resembles the 2018 version of Gennett, the Giants could be the beneficiaries of a huge offensive lift from second base. Incumbent has been inconsistent at the plate over the past couple of seasons, and if Gennett returns to form, Panik is the odd man out.

"I talked to Joe about a new role," manager Bruce Bochy said. "Joe's role has changed a little bit right now. But he gives us another left-handed bat off the bench and options with a double-switch. He'll maybe take some ground balls on the left side or at first base, give us some more flexibility."

Panik took ground balls at third base during batting practice prior to Friday's game.

Longoria could be activated as soon as Sunday

, who has been out for the past three weeks with a strained plantar fascia in his left foot, could return to the Giants lineup as soon as Sunday without need for a Minor League rehab assignment, according to Bochy.

"We'll see how his workout goes today," Bochy said before Friday's game. "He might play on the last day here [in Colorado]."

Longoria was on fire at the plate before his injury, hitting .400 (12-for-30) with six home runs in nine July games. His return could help ignite a lineup that was red-hot for most of July, but has cooled off recently.

Crawford back in starting lineup, Pillar out

Both and left Thursday's series finale in Philadelphia due to injuries. Crawford hurt his shoulder on a diving attempt, and Pillar came away with a sore left hip and tight lower back after slamming into the center-field wall trying to take a home run away from J.T. Realmuto.

Crawford tested out the shoulder in warmups prior to Friday's game at Coors Field and was in the starting lineup. Pillar was not, but Bochy said he may be able to play Saturday. With Pillar down, the Giants called up outfielder Steven Duggar from Triple-A Sacramento.

Duggar started Friday in center field after being hot at the plate for Sacramento since being optioned in late June. He was hitting .337/.461/.542 with three homers in 23 games. He went 2-for-4 with a double in Friday's 5-4 loss.

Austin DFA'd, Rodriguez optioned

In other transactions Friday, San Francisco designated for assignment and optioned right-hander to Sacramento.

In sporadic playing time, Austin hit .185/.279/.400 with eight homers in 147 plate appearances this season for the Giants.

Rodriguez gave up seven runs (four earned) on eight hits over three innings in Thursday's 10-2 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.

Bochy honored pregame

Prior to Friday's series opener, the Rockies paid tribute to Bochy, who will be retiring following 25 years as a Major League manager at the end of this season.

The Rockies played a short tribute video on the scoreboard, and then Colorado manager Bud Black -- who replaced Bochy as Padres manager after Bochy joined San Francisco in 2006 -- presented him with the "SF" sign from the Coors Field out-of-town scoreboard in right field. It was signed by all of the Rockies.