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SF Giants: Brandon Belt progressing towards Opening Day start

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 24: Brandon Belt #9 of the San Francisco Giants fields at first base against the Colorado Rockies at Oracle Park on September 24, 2020 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 24: Brandon Belt #9 of the San Francisco Giants fields at first base against the Colorado Rockies at Oracle Park on September 24, 2020 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
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SF Giants, Brandon Belt
SF Giants first baseman Brandon Belt may indeed be ready to play every day by Opening Day. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

SF Giants first baseman Brandon Belt made his first start of spring training on Thursday in the Giants 2-2 tie with the Milwaukee Brewers. A day after Belt got his first plate appearance of the preseason, pinch-hitting in the team’s 7-3 victory over the San Diego Padres, Belt took the field for the first time in an official capacity. Belt played four innings and went 1-2 with a single. In a videoconference with reporters after the game, he told reporters that he believes he will be ready to be on the active roster by Opening Day.

It has been a wild ride for the Giants starting first baseman this offseason. Coming off the best season of his career in 2020, Belt received the first Most Valuable Player award vote of his career and seemed primed for a late-career breakout. However, an early offseason foot surgery quickly delayed his preparations. Then, in January, Belt suffered severe symptoms from COVID-19 and mononucleosis.

SF Giants 1B Brandon Belt might be ready by Opening Day.

Last season, Belt reached a level of production he never had before at the big-league level. His .309/.425/.591 triple-slash line ranked among the best in baseball and was arguably the second-best performance by a first baseman in MLB. For most of spring training, though, manager Gabe Kapler has been preparing to start the season with Belt on the injured list.

The Giants have accumulated several options at first base to fill in if Belt cannot start the season on the active roster. Offseason acquisitions Tommy La Stella, LaMonte Wade Jr, Justin Bour, and Jason Vosler are all left-handed hitters with extensive experience at first base. Combined with holdovers Darin Ruf and Wilmer Flores, Kapler should have plenty of options to choose from. Then again, if Belt is ready by Opening Day, that could force the Giants to move on from Ruf or option Wade to the minor leagues.

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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. While his recovery has looked uncertain for most of the preseason, things appear to be looking up for Belt after playing his first spring training game of 2021.

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