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Giants recall OF Slater, option Rodriguez

@oapostrophesd
July 1, 2019

SAN DIEGO – Right-hander Dereck Rodríguez was sent to Triple-A Sacramento for the second time this season, but the Giants made the move Monday with an eye toward returning him to the rotation. Of immediate benefit, the Giants also got Austin Slater’s bat back in the Majors in time to

SAN DIEGO – Right-hander Dereck Rodríguez was sent to Triple-A Sacramento for the second time this season, but the Giants made the move Monday with an eye toward returning him to the rotation.

Of immediate benefit, the Giants also got Austin Slater’s bat back in the Majors in time to face the lefty-heavy Padres. The versatile Slater was recalled from Sacramento for his first big league tour of 2019, and he went 2-for-5 on Monday with a home run and an RBI triple in the Giants' 13-2 rout at Petco Park.

Rodriguez, 27, has been unable to replicate his rookie form of 2018. He is 3-5 with a 5.27 ERA in 17 games (eight starts) with the Giants. He opened the season in the rotation, was sent down to Sacramento in mid-May for two starts and had been in the Giants’ bullpen after returning to the team in late May.

This stint with Sacramento could be for only two starts.

“We need to get him down there throwing on a consistent basis, stretched out, back as a starter,” manager Bruce Bochy said.

The plan is for Rodriguez to throw about 60 pitches in his next outing and then push it a bit further in his second outing. If all goes well, he could be starting for the Giants soon after the All-Star break. They return from the break with 14 games in 13 days, including a doubleheader at Colorado on July 15.

In his latest stretch with the Giants, Rodriguez made nine relief appearances and had a 5.87 ERA in 15 1/3 innings. He had a 1.37 WHIP and only eight strikeouts. But he passed the eye test with Bochy, who said Rodriguez pitched into some hard luck.

“He’s actually been throwing the ball better that what’s happened,” the manager said. “I think he’s been throwing the ball better than he was earlier this season.”

Rodriguez was 6-4 with a 2.81 ERA in 21 games (19 starts) in 2018.

New swing, new positions for Slater

Slater, 26, returns to the big leagues after playing 108 games with the Giants from 2017-18. He reworked his swing in the offseason and saw positive results in Triple-A, posting a .308/.436/.529 slash line in 70 games, with 12 home runs and 45 RBIs.

“I was trying to flatten out my swing and get into the zone a little deeper, not be quite as steep,” he said. “Short in and short out. …

“It was definitely an adjustment to get consistent with it. It was easy to do once in a while, but the name of the game is consistency. That’s what I was really keying in on down there.”

Bochy noted Slater’s success against left-handers -- .339/.506/.581 for a 1.087 OPS -- and put him in the lineup Monday against Padres rookie lefty Logan Allen. Bochy also likes the defensive versatility Slater brings. After playing the outfield corners and first base for the Giants last year, Slater played six positions at Sacramento this year -- everywhere but pitcher, catcher and shortstop.

“I just have to get a bigger bat bag to carry all the gloves,” Slater said. “That’s about the only difference.”

Crawford sits

Shortstop Brandon Crawford was out of the lineup Monday as he deals with right hamstring tightness, an issue that caused him to miss a game a week earlier, too.

“He’s doing better,” Bochy said. “We’ll see how he feels after treatment. If we have to, we’ll get an MRI and see exactly what’s going on. But right now, there’s no plan to do that.”

Shaun O'Neill is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in San Diego. Follow him on Twitter @oapostrophesd.