Uh, oh. The injury bug appears to be making its way around the San Francisco Giants clubhouse.
Second baseman Joe Panik was already sitting out while nursing a hip injury, when shortstop Brandon Crawford strained his hip flexor during Thursday’s game in Colorado. Crawford told reporters he considers himself questionable for Friday’s game.
Panik should be able to play, since he was able to make an appearance Thursday. He got in the game because Crawford’s replacement, Ehire Adrianza, left the game after fouling a ball off his foot. Fortunately, X-rays came back negative.
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If he Crawford and Adrianza are both sidelined Friday, Panik will be back at second base and Kelby Tomlinson will handle short.
These ailments are all minor strains and bruises, none of which, at least at the moment, are serious enough to keep any of the Giants’ middle infielders out for an extended period.
Sergio Romo, meanwhile, has suffered a more serious injury. The Giants placed their setup man on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday, due to a strained flexor muscle in or near his elbow. Reports are that Romo will be reevaluated in two weeks, which is the soonest he could resume throwing. That means he will be out considerably longer than two weeks.
The Giants reportedly will call announce Romo’s roster replacement on Friday.
With Romo down for a while—Cain had missed more than three months with a similar injury last year, this will be a big test for Hunter Strickland, the right-handed fireballer who’s next in line for the setup role. While some Giants fans still have a sour taste in their mouths from Strickland’s car wreck of a performance in the 2014 postseason (eight relief appearances, 34 batters faced, six home runs allowed), Strickland is a better, more experienced pitcher now.
In fact, Strickland could be on the verge of becoming dominant: he posted an impressive 2.45 ERA while striking out a batter per inning in 2014, and so far in this young season has struck out five while holding opponents scoreless in three innings.
So the time has come for Strickland to prove the Giants right for believing he has late-inning—and ultimately, closer—ability.