SAN FRANCISCO — When the doors of the Giants Clubhouse opened Monday afternoon, a familiar if somewhat unexpected face was sitting on his corner locker beneath a pair of Tom Brady Buccaneers jerseys.
Although he was not active for Monday’s series opener with the Colorado Rockies, Ivan Longoria had returned from a five-day rehab assignment and regained his place at the clubhouse. It is only a matter of days when he does the same at third base and middle of the Giants batting order.
Longoria, who would have missed the first 29 games of the season after Monday following surgery to repair a ligament in his right index finger, said his season debut is “expected in the next three or four days.”
Manager Gabe Kapler confirmed Longoria’s announcement: “He is ready to play.”
“I’m as close to being ready as possible,” Longoria said. “We have to have some conversations, but I definitely think the hand is healthy.”
Longoria’s addition would be greeted by a blistering lineup that recently endured a five-game losing streak, during which he scored a total of 10. Longoria’s arrival also marks one of the last veterans left to return from IL.
Lamonte Wade Jr (left knee) started the season this past weekend after missing the first 25 games. Brandon Belt, while still sidelined on Monday with a stiff neck, gave the Giants a clean bill of health in the COVID department when he returned on Saturday after a five-player outbreak.
So, what’s blocking Longoria activating?
Austin Gomber, a left-hander, was on the mound for the Rockies on Monday. If Longoria is healthy, it looks like the kind of soft landing the Giants are trying to do to help players come back from injuries and come up above Triple-A.
Longoria went 5-for-18 (.278) on his rehab assignment but was dismissed seven times, including a hat-trick in his final game with Triple-A Sacramento on Sunday. At age 36, in his 15th MLB season, Longoria admitted that it was difficult at times to focus on the pitching he faced in Triple-A.
“My at-bats were fine there. I hit too much,” he said. “You get a little upset with the big leagues. My focus has been on whether my hand feels good? Does my body feel good? Am I swinging on the right pitches? I felt a lot of my bats down there, especially the ones I hit, I had pitches to hit at-bat and didn’t put them into play. I think some of it, right or wrong, is a lack of focus. …I feel good physically.”
Kapler said the Giants are “figuring out the right time to activate him.”
“Evan knows that when one player is activated, the other is given the option,” Kapler said. “He knows we’re looking forward to the upcoming matchup and the best way to make the most of his playing time. He’s not necessarily the guy we’ll throw out and he’s going to play 10 games before IL.” Used to be.
For now, hot-hitting Wilmer Flores continued to third base on Monday night.
Longoria will continue its work with the larger club at its facilities in San Francisco. He said that, at this point, he was “barely treating” a surgically repaired finger and that his work mostly revolved around live reps. On Monday, he sat in on Alex Cobb’s bullpen session and cut the cage.
Oh Brady Swag? Two matching white number 12 jerseys, a gift from a clubhouse attendant in Tampa. Longoria may not have had a chance to live up to the glory of San Mateo’s Serra High, but after spending the first decade of her career in Tampa, she’s a big Books fan.
“Sick, huh?” They said.
- Tommy La Stella (Right Achilles sheath) Continuing on El Paso for the Sacramento River Cats’ upcoming road trip. He has played one less game on his rehab assignment than Longoria and is nowhere close to joining the Giants. “He feels good for his body and that’s when he’s ready,” Kapler said. “The first sign would be that he’s telling us that it feels good enough to do what he needs to do on the baseball field in order to be successful.” When that time comes, La Stella will be the last of the Giants’ significant contributors to begin their season on the shelf to begin the year.
- It’s been closed for three weeks Anthony Descalafoni (right ankle) was placed on the wounded. On Monday, he threw a mound during a bullpen session for the first time since his last start on April 21. He could “start” a rehab assignment, but that doesn’t appear to be an option in the near future. “I don’t want to get too ahead of myself,” Kapler said, “the way he’s coming out everyday is so encouraging.”