Fans finally know what has been keeping first baseman Brandon Belt from suiting up for the SF Giants thus far in spring training. In a videoconference with reporters on Saturday, Belt revealed that he contracted mononucleosis just as spring training approached. While he told reporters he is finally feeling better, Belt is now trying to regain his strength and return to game shape in time to join the team by Opening Day.
Belt has struggled with injuries over the past few seasons but had a resurgent performance in 2020. Carried by an incredible stretch of play through the middle of the season. He posted a career-high in every average offensive category. His .309/.425/.591 triple-slash line ranked among the best first baseman in baseball.
When Belt underwent offseason 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. Then, in January, Belt contracted COVID-19 and was symptomatic for three-to-four weeks. As soon as he felt clear of the deadliest virus in a century, Belt began feeling lethargic and discovered he was positive for mono.
While he hopes to be back in the lineup by Opening Day, Belt’s timetable for a return remains in flux. Luckily, the Giants have accumulated several options at first base to fill in if he has to begin the season on the injured list. On top of returning players like Darin Ruf and Wilmer Flores, several of the organization’s offseason acquisitions, including LaMonte Wade Jr and Jason Vosler, are left-handed hitters with defensive experience at first base. The Giants also recently added another veteran first-baseman, Justin Bour, on a minor-league deal.
SF Giants fans will hope to see first baseman Brandon Belt healthy, back at full strength, and in the team’s lineup by Opening Day. However, after undergoing an offseason surgery and recovering from two severe illnesses, it’s beginning to look more like Belt will need some more time to get back into game shape.