Conforto had what looked like a mild-mannered interaction with the right field wall in the first inning of the game, but when his spot came up to bat in the second inning, it was Austin Slater taking his place.
We waited patiently, and the Giants announced a few innings later that Conforto had left the contest due to hamstring tightness. After the game they officially listed Conforto as day-to-day, with the important and optimistic news that he would not be getting a scan.
No scan planned for Conforto, he felt a little twinge on that play along the line. He'll be re-evaluated tomorrow.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) June 29, 2023
All signs point towards Conforto being OK, and returning to the lineup in the next two or three days. But if I had a million dollars for every time a team or a player had a positive initial assessment of an injury, only for that player to land on the Injured List a few days later, I’d have ... well, honestly, I have no idea how much money I’d have, but it would definitely be in the millions.
If Conforto can’t play, the Giants will be down to fourth healthy outfielders: Luis Matos, Austin Slater, Blake Sabol, and Bryce Johnson. That’s, in order, an everyday player who is fully unproven; a player who has already been on the IL twice this year and whom the Giants don’t like to play against righties; the backup catcher; and someone with a career slash line of .148/.197/.213.
Not ideal. With Mike Yastrzemski not eligible to come off the IL until Sunday (and no word on whether he’ll be ready to, anyway), the Giants are shy on options. Let’s look at all of them, in no order.
The Giants recently traded sweet cash for Guthrie, a right-handed hitting outfielder who was having a fine season for the Philadelphia Phillies AAA affiliate but who didn’t perform well in the Majors this year.
He’s the only outfielder on the Giants 40-man roster who is neither on the active roster nor on the 60-day IL (San Francisco has a trio of outfielders on the 60-day: Mitch Haniger, Heliot Ramos, and Luis González). In that regard, he’s the safe bet, even though he’s the safe bet the way that Cal Stevenson was the safe bet when he was traded for, called up, used in six games, hit 0-9, optioned, and designated for assignment, all in the span of exactly a month.
Guthrie may be the only available player listed as an outfielder on the Giants 40-man roster right now, but Wisely has spent plenty of time in center field in the Majors this year. That said, with Matos and Johnson already on the roster, I’m not sure how much value there is in adding a glove-first center fielder to the mix, especially when the infield is so overloaded right now that Wisely wouldn’t provide anything there.
The Giants currently have an uneven 14-12 split of position players and pitchers, meaning they can replace one of the former with one of the latter without surpassing the maximum allowable roster spots for pitchers. That would obviously leave them short in the outfield, but they can survive. Patrick Bailey is young and durable enough that Sabol can be more of an emergency catcher than a backup catcher (the Giants have already abandoned the rest-every-third-day model for Bailey). LaMonte Wade Jr., Joc Pederson, Thairo Estrada, and David Villar are all various levels of playable in a corner outfield spot if there’s an emergency. Maybe they just run with it, especially if they think that Yastrzemski will be ready soon.
It is worth noting that Alex Cobb is expected to return when his IL stint finishes up on Friday. The Giants are unlikely to make a move on Thursday, since they’ll want extra time to gauge Conforto’s injury, and since Toronto is a long ways away from Sacramento. So if Conforto does have to hit the IL, just doing it on Friday while activating Cobb would make a fair bit of sense.
A trade/waiver claim/Minor League free agent
This is the Giants we’re talking about. This option must always be presented.