AT&T PARK — Brandon Belt was curt after Friday’s 2-0, streak-breaking win over the first-place Colorado Rockies.
“I don’t have any information for you guys,” Belt said. “I’m just a little bit sore.”
Belt — who has suffered persistent knee soreness since coming off the disabled list on Aug. 14 — was pulled after the sixth inning on Friday. He has yet to get any tests, and though manager Bruce Bochy said there could be meniscus involvement, and there could be a surgical solution, nothing is certain.
“I’m concerned there,” Bochy said. “As far as a discussion, I will after I’m done here. I’ll get with [head trainer] Dave Groeschner, and Belt, and we’ve got to be smart about this, see where he’s at.”
Belt had started just seven of the previous 11 games, and for the first time since July 25, couldn’t finish a game he started on Friday.
“You get caught in a diminishing return area, where you’re starting the guy and he has to come out of the game, and now, you’re caught a little bit,” Bochy said. “We need to stay away from that. I know he wants to get out there, and he’s trying to get out there and help out the ballclub, but if it’s that sore and you can’t get through nine, it’s a case where you can’t start.”
Bochy said he, Groeschner and Belt will have a talk and “figure out what to do the rest of the way.”
Belt was headed towards a career year through the first two months of the season, hitting .307 with 11 home runs and 31 RBIs in 53 games, but on June 1, he exited with stabbing pain in his abdomen: Appendicitis. He missed 13 games.
Then, on July 25, trying to beat out a single in the seventh against the Seattle Mariners, he ran into pitcher Mike Leake and tweaked his knee. That cost him 17 games, and is the genesis of the issues with which he’s now dealing. Since his return from the disabled list, he’s hitting .169 with no home runs in 26 games.
Belt has said it feels similar to 2015, when he had arthroscopic surgery to repair a meniscus tear.
Belt’s shoes are tough to fill, and not just because they’re size 15s. He’s the best defensive first baseman in the majors, according to FanGraphs. He has 12 defensive runs saved, is third in ultimate zone rating and is tops in UZR/150 (the number of runs above or below average a fielder is, per 150 defensive games).
San Francisco has limited options at first. Pablo Sandoval is out for the rest of the season after hamstring surgery, Ryder Jones is out for the rest of the year with a dislocated patella, the club would rather keep Austin Slater in the outfield and after that, only Joe Panik is a realistic option, and he hasn’t taken grounders there.
Backup catcher Aramis Garcia could play first, but the Giants didn’t call up a third catcher when rosters expanded, and it’s too late now. Given the fact that Buster Posey, too, is out with injury, having both remaining catchers in the field at the same time is not a wise risk to take.Brandon BeltBruce BochyMLBSan Francisco Giants