The San Francisco Giants were dealt yet another blow on Saturday night as third baseman Pablo Sandoval was forced to leave the game after re-aggravating his left foot injury.
The third baseman, who missed 95 games in the previous two seasons due to injuries, is now very likely to add to that number with yet another trip to the disabled list. Following the game Sunday, Giants manager Bruce Bochy acknowledged the likelihood of the team being without Sandoval again.
When making a decision on Sandoval, the Giants need to consider the consequences. Sandoval has proven that he is not totally over the injury, and if they continue to let him play, they run the risk of something much more serious happening to him. While the team will undoubtedly suffer without Sandoval in the lineup, it would be even more troubling to be without him during the stretch run in August and September. Allowing him to get an extended period of rest would give the team greater faith in Sandoval being available when they need him most.
At the same time, a DL stint for Sandoval creates several problems for the team. The biggest issue for Sandoval is that he misses the daily conditioning from playing in games. He has historically come back overweight following long DL stints, and the team cannot allow him to balloon up to the point where he is ineffective like what happened in 2010. It is imperative, especially if he misses more than just 15 days, that he be kept on an intense fitness regimen, which may be more difficult since he is dealing with a foot injury.
In addition, the team must decide how they want to fill the third base spot. While Joaquin Arias is a great defender and was very effective last season, he is only hitting .220 this year and struggles against lefthanders, having a .247/.283/.335 career split versus lefties as compared to .300/.335/.405 against righthanders. It may make more sense to platoon Arias with recent callup Juan Perez, a righty hitter who provides the potential for good power and speed.
No matter who it is, the team should have great difficulty replicating Sandoval’s production.