Looking Forward to Returns of Injured San Francisco Giants

Aug 4, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain (18) watches a game against the Atlanta Braves in the third inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 4, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain (18) watches a game against the Atlanta Braves in the third inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

Despite a series of injuries sapping the San Francisco Giants of several regulars, the team of the decade didn’t miss a beat on its way to securing the Majors’ best record at midseason. Still, these sidelined stars will be welcomed with open arms upon their returns. Here’s a rundown on where these injured Giants are in their recoveries.

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Matt Cain has pitched twice on his rehab assignment, most recently July 8. According to a tweet from CSN Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic, Cain is set to start the Giants’ fifth game out of the break.

Hunter Pence was expected to miss around two months after tearing a hamstring tendon on June 1. He’s slightly ahead of schedule in his recovery, with a projected July 25 return. Giants beat reporters are saying that Pence might begin a rehab assignment as soon as Saturday.

(Side note: if you decide to search for Pence on Twitter today, be prepared to see an endless scroll of bad jokes about Hunter Pence being a vice presidential candidate. That, of course, is in response to Indiana governor Mike Pence reportedly joining the Republican ticket in that capacity.)

Joe Panik hasn’t played since June 27 due to concussion symptoms. He is reportedly “close to being sent on (a) rehab assignment,” according to the MLB.com injury report. That doesn’t provide a definitive timeline for his return, but it’s safe to assume he’ll be back before the end of the month.

Matt Duffy is trying to overcome Achilles soreness, which has sidelined him since June 20. He reportedly took batting practice on the field with the Giants prior to the all-star break. He was able to take grounders, but at the time he was still feeling discomfort running in a straight line. So there’s no timeline yet on when he will return.

Ehire Adrianza — remember him? — hasn’t played since mid-April due to a fractured foot. The utility infielder has gone 3-for-9 with a walk in three rehab games with Single-A San Jose.

Kelby Tomlinson was activated from the disabled list on Monday (first day of the all-star break) and optioned to Triple-A Sacramento. Word is that he needs to earn his way back to the Majors. But considering that Panik and Duffy aren’t ready to return, and that Tomlinson brings a nice spark off the bench, it’s a little peculiar that the Giants would keep him down on the farm right now.

Cory Gearrin hit the DL on July 6 with a shoulder strain. There’s no word on when the middle reliever will be ready to pitch again.

So, what does this all mean? With Cain’s pending return, the rotation will be complete again, and Albert Suarez could be pushed to the bullpen but likely will return to Triple-A. Josh Osich has been the Giants’ least effective reliever, but he and Javier Lopez are the bullpen’s only lefties. Otherwise, no other relief pitcher seems like likely for a demotion.

When Pence returns, either Jarrett Parker or Mac Williamson will head back to Triple-A. It’s a coin flip at this point which one it will be. But with the returns for Panik, Duffy and possibly Adrianza, both rookie outfielders could soon be back in the minors. But more likely, Grant Green, Reben Tejada and Ramiro Pena will probably be sent down, likely in that order.

This is purely speculative, but Conor Gillaspie seems to be a strong candidate to stick in San Francisco once all the regulars are back. He’s been hitting better than Duffy was before Duffy went on the DL (not saying that Gillaspie will keep the starting third base job), and he offers a nice left-handed bat off the bench.

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Since Gearrin’s return isn’t imminent, it’s too early to see how he fits back with the team. But he hadn’t been pitching well lately, so it be best to send him to Sacramento once he’s healthy.