The injury factor wasn’t a prominent problem for the San Francisco Giants when Spring Training commenced in February, but it’s become increasingly apparent that certain players are going to bounce between the DL and 25-man roster throughout the 2014 season.
Second baseman Marco Scutaro is probably going to start the regular season on the shelf, immediately exposing San Francisco’s ongoing lack of bench depth. GM Brian Sabean was unable to bolster the Giants’ depth over the offseason in part because it is inherently difficult to sign role players on the open market.
Scutaro is a table-setter for the Giants. He’s one of the best contact hitters in the game, striking out just once per 7.5 at-bats over the past two seasons. At 38 years old, Scutaro is enduring nagging lower back pain. His ailment has left him reeling this spring. The Giants had remained hopeful that Scutaro would be able to start on Opening Day, but his condition hasn’t improved. It’s an alarming issue for the Giants, who will now resort to career minor leaguer Ehire Adrianza to fill the void at second base.
The Giants’ injury woes don’t end with Scutaro. Offseason acquisition Michael Morse hasn’t exactly appeared healthy in camp. At least, his performance doesn’t indicate that he’s feeling anywhere close to 100 percent. Morse has registered a concerning .316 slugging percentage in 19 official at-bats this spring. He’s been hampered by a calf injury, although he has repeatedly told the San Francisco Chronicle that he doesn’t think his nagging lower leg pain is serious.
San Francisco should also be concerned about presumed No. 5 starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong, who has suffered through a horrific camp. Vogelsong was magnificent for the Giants in 2011 and 2012, posting numbers outrageously impressive in comparison to his career averages. He spent a majority of the 2013 campaign on the DL due to a hand injury suffered in a midseason at-bat. Vogelsong hasn’t alluded to an injury as being the primary reason for his struggles this spring, but it’s a realistic possibility.
At 36 years of age, Vogelsong understands the hardship of battling for a roster spot, let alone a slot on a starting rotation that flaunts several highly-accomplished pitchers. Vogelsong, a journeyman, could be hurting somewhere else than in the stat sheet. He owns a 9.00 ERA in 15.0 innings pitched this spring. It’s a problem that the Giants’ coaches continue to downplay, but San Francisco might be forced to resort to a farmhand if Vogelsong’s struggles carry into the season.
The Giants appeared bound for a turnaround at the start of Spring Training, given a veteran roster filled by players who have World Series experience. Now, the alarming likelihood of San Francisco suffering a duplicate season consumed by fatal injuries from players expected to contribute is increasing, and that’s not a good thing.