SF Giants first baseman Brandon Belt underwent heel surgery early in the offseason, but he is dealing with a different ailment at the moment. In his Zoom videoconference with reporters on Tuesday, manager Gabe Kapler revealed that the longtime first baseman is battling an undisclosed illness. It was also confirmed that the illness is not COVID-19 related.
Belt has yet to make an appearance in spring training. When Belt underwent heel surgery, there was some concern that he would not be ready for Opening Day. However, that prognosis looked more favorable as spring training drew closer. Now, it’s once again unclear.
Health update on SF Giants first baseman Brandon Belt
If Belt is not ready to go by Opening Day, it will create a significant void in the lineup. After all, he is coming off the best season of his career in 2020, where he slashed .309/.425/.591 (178 OPS+) with nine home runs and 30 RBI in 51 games. In fact, his performance was impressive enough to receive one MVP vote. Of course, this came with his usual strong plate discipline, drawing walks in 16.8 percent of his plate appearances.
As the season draws closer, the Giants may need to consider alternatives in case Belt is not ready to go. They have right-handed bats Darin Ruf and Wilmer Flores who could fill in. Furthermore, offseason addition Tommy La Stella could offer a left-handed platoon complement to either player. Belt’s production at the plate would be difficult for anyone to replicate, but his elite defense might be harder for the team to replace than his bat.
The SF Giants obviously hope first baseman Brandon Belt will be ready to play on Opening Day. However, an offseason surgery already put his status up in the air to start the year and now it appears he’s facing another impediment to returning to the field. Luckily, with spring training just underway, there will hopefully enough time to get Belt back onto the field.