San Francisco Giants to activate Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford likely to avoid DL

Updated 6:52 p.m.

LOS ANGELES — After a collision in the bottom of the bottom of the fourth inning of Monday night’s 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, where Brandon Crawford fell headfirst into Gorkys Hernandez’s knee, both were not in the starting lineup for the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday.

Crawford — who has missed just five games all year, and three of those due to paternity leave — was feeling well enough to joke about not being able to do an interview (a league policy for players in concussion protocol), pantomiming zipping his lips. He later took batting practice, bringing a fielder’s mitt out to the field, as did Hernandez.

“He’s feeling pretty good,” manager Bruce Bochy said of Crawford. “I think he’s feeling a lot better today. We’re still not going to play him. I’ll wait until game time to hear from [head trainer] Dave Groeschner to see if we can pinch hit him or not. I think the plan right now is to try and stay away from him … Gorkys is fine. He’s good to go, help us in any way we need him.”

Beset by injuries — six position starters and three starting pitchers have spent time on the disabled list — the Giants may have dodged a bullet following Monday’s mishap. Both Crawford and Hernandez seem likely to avoid the disabled list, and San Francisco will be getting a big bat back in Brandon Belt (hyperextended right knee; July 25), was activated from the disabled list following batting practice. In a corresponding move, pitcher Pierce Johnson was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento.

Both Belt and Hernandez will be available off the bench, and Belt will play in the Wednesday series finale before the team heads on to Cincinnati.

Crawford left Monday’s game following his leadoff at-bat in the top of the fifth — a pop out to short — after Groeschner determined he had concussion-like symptoms following his collision with Hernandez.

With two outs in the bottom of the fourth, Clayton Kershaw had popped the fifth pitch of his at-bat high down the left field line. As the ball came down, Hernandez ceded the play to Crawford, but took a step forward to maintain balance. Crawford ran face-first into Hernandez’s right leg, knocking his chin on the inside of Hernandez’s knee. The ball dropped and a run scored. Crawford got up and was able to throw to third to get Kershaw, but looked hazy as he walked off the field with medical personnel, while Hernandez walked off under his own power.

“The last thing I see, by the time I see him, it was too late,” Hernandez said Monday night. “I tried to stop, but he was on me.”

Crawford went out to hit because he seemed fine at the time, but he wasn’t quite right after his plate appearance.

“He was checked out, and he said he was good to hit,” Bochy said. “I guess they did run some quick tests there on him, and said he was fine. When he got back [from the plate], they spent a little bit more time with him, and it was just you get to the point where you’ve got to air on the side of caution.”

Crawford was the feel-good story of the first half for San Francisco. A year removed from one of his worst seasons both on the field and off — one sister-in-law came out as one of Larry Nasser’s accusers in the US Gymnastics sexual abuse scandal, and another died suddenly, while his wife had two miscarriages — he hit over .400 in the month of May, and was named an All-Star starter for the first time in his career.

The three-time Gold Glove shortstop, though, had hit just .187 in the month of August, headed into Monday’s game.

“Could he have gone back out there? Sure, he could have, but Gresh’ said ‘I think it’s best we take him out,'” Bochy said. “They ask a lot of questions, look at his eyes, and he just had to make a call, and said, ‘I think we should get him out.'”

It worked out fine for the Giants: In the ninth, Nick Hundley pinch hit for Alen Hanson, who came on in place of Crawford. Hundley got the go-ahead RBIs that sparked a four-run ninth.

There was more concern about Hernandez’s wrist on Monday night than there was his knee, as he fell on it as he tried to brace himself from his fall, but he said that, too felt fine.

Hernandez has been having a career year. In 104 games, he is hitting .258 and slugging .430 with 13 home runs — five more than his career total up until this season.

*****

While the Giants have hit .248 as a team against left-handers, and their left-handed batters have hit .235 against southpaws, Belt will return to his normal everyday spot in the lineup once he returns.

Rookie Austin Slater — an outfielder by trade who’s filled in for Belt at first — is hitting .333 against left-handers, and fellow outfield prospect, rookie Steven Duggar, has hit .323 against lefties.

*****

Closer Will Smith threw 20 pitches in earning the save on Monday, and has thrown on back-to-back days. Bochy wants to stay away from him on Tuesday.

*****

The Giants will announce their starters for the series with the Reds after the game.

*****

Pablo Sandoval will be back in the clubhouse when the team returns to San Francisco. He’s “not moving around well right now,” after having surgery on a torn hamstring, an injury that ended his season.

Ryan Gorcey

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