One of the saddest things that has happened during an otherwise magically happy San Francisco Giants year is Brandon Belt fracturing his thumb in the final week of the season. Belt has been one of baseball’s best hitters over the last two years, but injuries have taken a lot of games from him, including a knee injury in June that looked like it might threaten his season.
So when Belt took a fastball off the inside of his left hand while attempting a bunt attempt, and immediately recoiled in pain, our collective heart’s sunk. They sunk for Belt, who seems to have the worst luck with bizarre injuries, and they sunk for the team, which looked like it would be without one of their elite bats for a postseason run.
But while the average fractured thumb results in a recovery time of about two months, the Giants are apparently optimistic internally about Belt’s timeline.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser, who recently discussed Belt’s injury on KNBR, the organization is gaining hope that Belt’s timeline will be pushed up.
“It’s a long shot the Division Series, but a few days ago even people behind the scenes were saying there’s no chance for the Division Series, he’s been ruled out,” Slusser said. “Yesterday kind of poking around, people were like, ‘hey we would love it, we’re not 100 percent ruling out that chance.’”
Slusser reported that one of the main reasons for the optimism is a drug called Forteo, which helps with bone formation. The hope seems to be that with a little bit of help, the bone can get to a point where Belt can swing a bat (and hopefully throw a baseball) without much impairment or without causing further damage. He’ll likely still be in pain, but I’d put my money on Belt playing through pain if the trainers give him the green light.
It’s still quite unlikely that we see Belt in the NLDS. He’s set for an MRI before the series begins — and, crucially, before the Giants have to set their roster — but even if the team is optimistic that he could return halfway through the series, would they use a roster spot on him? Unlike in the regular season, the Giants can’t change their roster mid-series, unless someone suffers an injury and is placed on the IL. And they’re back down to 26 players instead of 28, making it that much harder to find space for a player who may be limited to pinch-hitting duties.
But it sure would be a great story if he did make the roster. And even if he doesn’t, it gives us reason for optimism that he could be on the NLCS roster, should the Giants advance to the Championship Series.