SF Giants news: Skills not coming back if season is lost, Pat Burrell dreads

Veteran SF Giants need to get those game reps in 2020

If the 2020 MLB season were canceled, several veteran San Francisco Giants players may find themselves fighting an uphill battle to stay relevant, Giants minor league hitting coach Pat Burrell says.

Burrell spoke on the “Murph and Mac” show on KNBR Tuesday.

“Especially if you’re getting near 30 or getting even past, you’re talking about getting a year off and skills diminishing, and there’s no guarantee skills are coming back. There’s been so much attention for Hunter Pence and Pablo (Sandoval) coming back. Those guys don’t play for a year, it’s tough to get back on the horse. You spend a couple months even on the disabled list and you’re active, and it takes you a long time for a rehab assignment to get back and be good, let alone a year.”

Burrell, you’ll recall, spent most of his playing career with the Phillies before joining the Giants for his final two seasons. He hit an above-average .253 / .361 /.472 / .834 across 12 years in the majors, finishing up in 2011.

Pence, Sandoval, and every other player have found their careers on hold since Major League Baseball sent players home in March near the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States. Since then, players have been on their own in regards to staying in playing shape while the league and players union works out details of how to get in a partial season in 2020.

The most recent belief is that the season could be as short as 50 games.

Undoubtedly when (if?) Spring Training 2 opens, we’ll find some players handled the extra offseason a little better than others.

“Basketball you can shoot hoops, you can play three-on-three, five-on-five, kind of get back,” Burrell said. “Baseball you can’t replicate the game. The pitching, the velocity, the separation. It’s a tough game, and it’s very hard to stay in shape for physically, let alone mentally. … I don’t want to paint a grim picture, but it’s just a tough time.”

At 37, Pence is the oldest member of the team who would be expected to get regular playing time. He’s also here on a one-year contract, so a lost season could spell the end of his career in San Francisco, or, just the end, really.

Sandoval will turn 34 in August, while Buster Posey just turned 33. Evan Longoria is another of those “elder” Giants at 34 (turning 35 in October).