UPDATED 4:49 p.m.: Austin passed all the tests the Giants needed to see him pass, and will stay on the active roster.
ORACLE PARK — During his pre-batting practice throwing session in the outfield on Friday, Tyler Austin, the San Francisco Giants’ newly-acquired solution for left field, felt discomfort in the back side of his elbow while throwing to bases.
“The last couple throws, it kind of started to bother me a little bit,” Austin said on Sunday. “That’s when I initially noticed it.”
He appeared that night in the Giants’ 18-inning marathon, but only as a pinch hitter, and he was held out on Saturday for precautionary reasons. After undergoing an MRI on Saturday, Austin was back at the park Sunday, though his fate was not entirely known.
With Aramis Garcia in the clubhouse and on the taxi squad, Austin — who’s 3-for-9 with an RBI since joining San Francisco — avoided the injured list, and will make the trip with the club to Washington. He won’t be playing outfield again soon, though, and will be limited to pinch hitting and first base duty.
Austin joked that it may have been because he hasn’t played the outfield in two years.
“I think that’s what it was, just zinged everything up in there a little bit, but it’s been better, so we’ll see how it goes today,” Austin said.
Manager Bruce Bochy said that the MRI looked “really clean,” and after he both played catch and hit in the cages, he was kept on the active roster.
“It’s just a matter of him getting over a little bit of discomfort,” Bochy said. “We’ll let this calm down … With the day off, we can hopefully start resuming the work in the outfield.”
Garcia was in San Francisco merely to provide coverage in case Austin had to go on the injured list. He was hitting .261 in six games at Sacramento before making the drive to the City.
The Giants bullpen has been a major bright spot during the current series with the Colorado Rockies. On the season, San Francisco’s relievers have a 1.86 ERA in 58 innings. This series, they’ve thrown 17 shutout innings.
“What the starters have been doing recently, they’ve all done a great job getting fairly deep into games, but the bullpen, across the board, they’re all doing such a great job,” Bochy said. “You look at that 18-inning game, what a great job they all did. [Travis] Bergen doesn’t have a lot of experience, but at the end of that game, he’s sitting for how long and he gets stretched out for two innings, that’s impressive … I think he’s stepped up his game.”
San Francisco would like to stay away from Reyes Moronta, who has pitched in three of the last four games. Will Smith will be at the back of the line, Bochy said.
The upcoming three-city road trip will include a swing through Toronto, which will be a nice homecoming for Kevin Pillar, who was dealt from the Blue Jays to the Giants during the first week of the season. His emotional departure was quick — he got the call from his general manager at 10:30 in the morning, got to the ballpark at 12:30, teammates came in at 1:15 and he had to leave at 1:45 to head to Los Angeles.
“There will be a lot of [emotions],” Pillar said. “I’m not really thinking about it right now, but my wife’s going to be coming, and we’re leaving the little one behind, so we’ll have a nice day off in Toronto.”
The Giants will have a free day up north, allowing Pillar to say his goodbyes properly, to re-visit some of he and his wife’s favorite eateries and see some of his old teammates in a social setting.
“We’ll ahve time to enjoy the things we love doing there, stuff we haven’t been able to do the last year, year-and-a-half in our lives because of having the kid,” Pillar said. “We’ll see some of our friends, and coincidentally, I think Toronto has an off day as well, so pretty sure we’ll be spending a lot of time with mostly Justin [Smoak] and his wife. Our families are very close. Seeing his kids, everything hapened so fast that day, never really got a chance to say goodbye.”
Pillar made sure that, while talking about his plans, he had a view of one of the eight television screens in the clubhouse. The entire home clubhouse was transfixed by the conclusion of the final round of The Masters, up on all eight screens as soon as Tiger Woods hit nearly holed out on his first shot on the 16th.
Pablo Sandoval, noted golf commentator, was particularly vocal.
“Tiger Woods, I love you! Tiger Woods you’re my hero! Tiger Woods, I’m better than you!” he crowed from one of oteh couches at the center of the room, continuing his running commentary from his corner locker. On Woods’ near-make on 18, Sandoval squawked, “Holys guacamole!”
“He knows a little bit about everything,” Bochy said. “Just ask him.”
“I don’t think he’s ever watched golf in his life,” said pitcher Dereck Rodriguez, who gets out and hits the links as much as he can during the offseason. Rodriguez’s first set of clubs? A gift from the first Puerto Rican to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, Chi Chi Rodriguez.
Upon Woods’ win — his first in 11 years — the entire clubhouse erupted in cheers.