While there were several intriguing takeaways from the SF Giants Spring Training opener, manager Gabe Kapler revealed after the game that outfielder Austin Slater had to leave the game earlier than planned with a tight hamstring. Kapler reiterated that the move was precautionary, and Slater is not expected to miss an extended amount of time.
Still, Slater’s ability to stay healthy remains a legitimate concern. Coming off a breakout 2020, where he hit .282/.402/.506 with five home runs and eight steals in just 104 plate appearances, Slater seemed on the cusp of becoming a legitimate impact player in San Francisco. However, the 28-year old has flashed strong play before but has missed significant time with injuries in two of the past four seasons.
SF Giants outfielder Austin Slater left the team’s first Spring Training game early with a tight hamstring.
Heading into the spring, Kapler had solidified his role, telling the media that he would get to fully commit to playing the outfield this year after seeing time at first base last year. Slater has previously exhibited severe platoon splits, hitting far better against left-handed pitching than right-handed pitching. Even if that remains the case, paired with teammate Alex Dickerson, who has struggled against southpaws but obliterated righties, Slater should be primed for another strong season if healthy. Historically though, that has been a big if.
If Slater does miss the start of the season, that could create a spot on the Opening Day roster for someone like Darin Ruf, who is an inferior defender to Slater but has had similar success at the plate against lefties. The front office could also prioritize defense to replace Slater, which would open up an additional opportunity for players like Jaylin Davis, Steven Duggar, and LaMonte Wade Jr, who are currently competing for the fifth-outfielder spot.
Fans should be somewhat concerned after outfielder Austin Slater left the SF Giants’ first game of the preseason with a tight hamstring. However, it seems pretty clear the move was primarily precautionary and was not a reaction to something more serious. With plenty of time until Opening Day, the Giants should be able to give Slater plenty of time to rest up before ramping up his workload in plenty of time for the start of the regular season.