Angel Pagan is hurt, but he's not on the disabled list yet. To get some temporary help for the outfield, the Giants swapped a reliever for an outfielder, bringing up Mac Williamson and sending Steven Okert back to Sacramento. Long live the 12-man pitching staff. Long live the concept of fifth outfielders.
There's a wrinkle: Williamson might be more than a fifth outfielder for a bit. Pagan has a tweaked left hamstring, which seems like something that will be hard for a 34-year-old to shake off in a couple days. He went on the 60-day DL for a left hamstring strain in 2006, and while a 10-year-old injury doesn't have to mean anything (to the point where even Pagan doesn't remember it), it does remind us that there's never anything simple with hamstrings.
Which is all to say, welcome back, Mac Williamson. Make yourself indispensable. Do up here what you did down there.
What Williamson was doing in the Pacific Coast League was thriving. After a modest start in Triple-A and three hitless plate appearances in the majors, Williamson hit .424/.447/.697 after returning to Sacramento, including two homers and just four strikeouts in 38 plate appearances. His spring power display was impressive, but it came with plate discipline caveats. He's probably not a right-handed Joey Votto now, but it's nice to see the progress coming with improving contact, not in spite of it.
The Giants, consistent as ever, are going to do that thing where they keep an unavailable, injured player on the roster at the expense of pinch-hitting options and general depth. The only question is if the unavailable, injured player will be back in three or four days, as hoped, or if he'll linger for a week before finally going onto the disabled list, which is what always happens.
Is that unfair? At this point, gonna say, nah, that's perfectly fair. The Giants have earned our trust with just about everything related to running a baseball franchise, from player development to public relations. But, boy, are they running a cold streak when it comes to hoping players can be healthy sooner than 15 days. Prove me wrong, please.
Edit: It's a Grade I sprain, which is the mildest possible. That means four or five days off "at least," with evaluation after that. I have a wild guess about how this will go ...
As you might have surmised with just your eyeballs, Pagan wasn't quite as hot over the last couple weeks. His first 51 plate appearances: .356/.431/.533, with five extra-base hits, six walks, and seven strikeouts. His last 50 plate appearances: .277/.300/.383, with three extra-base hits, two walks, and eight strikeouts. Still, he's been one of the most valuable hitters on the Giants so far, and his loss is poorly timed, like they always are.
Williamson is starting against a left-handed pitcher on Monday, and my guess is that he'll get as many starts against lefties as possible until Pagan comes back. The only problem with that is a tiny detail, nitpicking really, about how Williamson has had serious, unmistakeable reverse-platoon splits for his entire career in the minors.
OPS vs. LHP: .743
OPS vs. RHP: .916
OPS vs. LHP: .688
OPS vs. RHP: 1.035
OPS vs. LHP: .720
OPS vs. RHP: .807
OPS vs. LHP: .713
OPS vs. RHP: 1.116
Could be sample-size shenanigans (2014 was just 100 PAs total because of injury, and 2016 just started). Still, it's something to watch. Just because Williamson fits the profile of a lefty-masher, that doesn't mean he is one.
He could be an excellent, all-around baseball player, though, so we'll see if he keeps hitting half as well as he was in the Pacific Coast League. If the Giants have any luck to sprout out of this injury, it will be Williamson making roster decisions much harder over the next couple weeks. Down with 13 pitchers. Up with fifth outfielders.