In true 2018 fashion, a key player on the roster will be out for at least a couple of months thanks to surgery.
Joe Panik had surgery today. Out at least six weeks.— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) April 30, 2018
Panik joins Madison Bumgarner, of course, as the other player, but let’s not forget the other friends we’ve lost along the way to the disabled list — Mark Melancon, Jeff Samardzija, Johnny Cueto, and Mac Williamson.
But Will Smith is set to return from his Tommy John surgery travails the day after tomorrow, and he’s had enough time to recover that Bruce Bochy won’t be shy about using him in high leverage situations.
Will Smith (Tommy John surgery) is expected to be activated Wednesday, and Bochy said he’ll use the reliever in high-leverage situations immediately.— Rusty Simmons (@Rusty_SFChron) April 30, 2018
I imagine he’ll take over the Josh Osich role, but in the good sense. Less “pitcher who comes in and gives up terrifyingly loud contact” and more “left-handed reliever who gets out lefties in the middle innings.”
There will also be some consideration regarding what to do in the middle infield. With Panik out indefinitely — that’s a muscle tear, so we’re talking about rebuilding strength in addition to regaining timing as a hitter and comfort gripping bats and balls which could take a lot longer than the initial prognosis — it’s down to Crawford, Tomlinson, and Alen Hanson. Amazingly, the Giants actually got younger on the roster losing Panik — but wait, that’s besides the point. The Giants are without their Gold Glove second baseman. It’s easy to imagine a platoon situation with Tomlinson against lefties (like tonight!) and Alen Hanson against righties (although, the Giants aren’t scheduled to face a right-handed starting pitcher until September of 2020).
So, the Giants are downgraded on offense and defense in one fell swoop, but they pick up a potentially useful arm in the bullpen. This is a slightly better scenario than the poor Dodgers, who have lost Corey Seager to Tommy John surgery for the rest of the season. That’s awful news for the Dodgers and for baseball, and even if you’re the kind of Giants fan who feels a sense of relief or a modicum of joy over the Dodgers’ misfortune, know that baseball has a way of balancing the scales and, really, the Giants aren’t better off when it comes to injuries.
And, as Andrew Baggarly wrote in The Athletic yesterday (which you can’t read because it’s behind a paywall and I would never suggest here that you subscribe there), no team and certainly no reasonable fan should ever expect a team to have a fully healthy roster for any stretch of time in the baseball season.
They’ve already gone this far not falling into the abyss. The Giants will have to keep pulling off this death-defying balancing act for quite a bit longer now.