La Stella feels great, ready to return to Giants

Jackson appreciates fan support after social media ugliness

August 4th, 2021

PHOENIX -- The Giants are planning to get a key piece of their lineup back on Wednesday, when infielder is expected to be activated off the 60-day injured list after missing three months with a left hamstring strain and a right thumb fracture.

La Stella rejoined the Giants at Chase Field on Tuesday after completing his rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento, where he hit .200 (6-for-30) over 12 games. La Stella has been out since May 2, but he felt he got his rhythm back at the plate during his stint with the River Cats.

“It’s more of just kind of trying to get my two-strike approach down and making sure I had my sense of the strike zone down first,” La Stella said. “I feel like I accomplished that, so I wasn’t so much concerned with the results or anything.”

The Giants signed the left-handed-hitting La Stella to a three-year, $18.75 million deal -- the longest guaranteed contract issued by the club under president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi -- but he slashed only .235/.297/.353 with one home run over 25 games before hitting the shelf.

La Stella initially tweaked his hamstring while scoring from third base during a 7-1 win over the Padres at Petco Park on May 2. The Giants were hoping they’d be able to get La Stella back in four to six weeks, but the 32-year-old veteran suffered another setback when he sustained a thumb fracture while fielding ground balls prior to one of his rehab games with Sacramento. La Stella’s return was further delayed when he continued to feel discomfort in his thumb, but he’s fully healthy now.

“It was just kind of in a tough spot, kind of the way the bat was rolling over my finger, but it feels great now,” La Stella said. “No issues.”

La Stella said he’s eager to help the Giants continue their playoff push and reunite with his former Cubs teammate Kris Bryant, who was acquired at the Trade Deadline last week.

“I was very excited when I saw the acquisition,” La Stella said. “It’s going to be a great fit. He’s awesome. Great guy, humble. One of the rare guys who is as talented as he is but is still genuinely humble.”

La Stella will likely start at second base against D-backs right-hander Zac Gallen on Wednesday, though it’s unclear what the corresponding roster moves will be for the Giants. San Francisco will have to clear spots on both the 26- and 40-man rosters to add La Stella, which could lead to difficult decisions for the club.

Jackson grateful for outpouring of support

Reliever endured a tough outing against the D-backs on Monday, but the situation became even more disheartening after he received multiple racist and abusive messages from fans on social media. Jackson, who is Black, posted screenshots of the vitriol that was directed to him on Twitter, prompting manager Gabe Kapler to begin his pregame session with reporters on Tuesday by denouncing the hate spewed in the ugly messages.

“There’s no place for racist comments to our players on social media, period,” Kapler said. “They are completely unacceptable. Disgusting. Not just in baseball, but in society in general. I was really taken aback. I know the entire clubhouse is. We understand that the comments that were made are not at all representative of our incredible fanbase. Our fanbase is wonderful and especially supportive. I think what we saw was once Jay shared what happened, the Giants fans came out in bunches in support of Jay with really loving, caring comments. I thought that was phenomenal.”

Jackson said he spoke with his father, Randy Jackson Sr., to help process the upsetting experience and thanked Kapler and other fans who countered the negativity by sending him a wave of uplifting and supportive messages. 

“I love that sports is able to do this, too,” Jackson said. “You see what happened, and to have all the fans, my teammates, my coaches, the staff, everybody -- the outpouring of love and support they’ve shown me has been unbelievable. I don’t take that for granted. It means a lot to me.”