At 38 years old, veteran second baseman Marco Scutaro doesn’t exactly fit the mold for the type of “spark-plug” the San Francisco Giants need in order to reclaim the NL West. That doesn’t change the fact that Scutaro is a proven difference-maker. His seemingly elusive return to the Giants’ lineup won’t generate headlines on ESPN’s SportsCenter, nor will it strike fear shrilling through the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ clubhouse, but the move has the potential to resuscitate San Francisco’s ghastly inability to score runs.
According to Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Giants plan to recall their projected Opening Day starting second baseman on either Friday or Saturday, depending on when he’s able to play a full nine innings at Triple-A Fresno. Scutaro hasn’t excelled offensively during his extended rehab stint (3-for-19), but he’s supposedly enduring non-intrusive pain from a bulging disk in his lower back, enabling him to swing freely.
After dropping 20 games in 27 tries, the Giants need all the help they can get. Scutaro won’t resume everyday responsibilities in the No. 2 spot of the Giants’ lineup, but is expected to be readily able to contribute off the bench, while also starting a few times each week. The 12-year veteran has been outstanding in two seasons with the Giants, recording a .357 on-base percentage with 145 hits and 57 runs scored in 2013. He’s one of the best contact hitters in the game, averaging less than a strikeout per six at-bats in 188 regular season games with San Francisco.
The Giants’ offense has been virtually unwatchable over the better part of the past two weeks. They’ve been shutout four times in their last nine games and haven’t scored more than five runs since June 21 (six). It’s hard to imagine the re-arrival of Scutaro as being the defining positive turning point for the Giants, but it’s also not unfathomable.
The table-setting combination of Angel Pagan and Scutaro is the driving force that makes the Giants a quality offensive team. Adding Sctuaro to the mix will presumably increase the Giants’ ability to score runs, despite Pagan’s lingering absence, solely based on his knack for getting on base. The Giants’ glaring inefficiency with RISP remains their overwhelming issue offensively, but Scutaro will lengthen the lineup when he starts, allowing Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval to drop down in the order.
The 2014 MLB season is far from over, but it’s now or never for the Giants, who probably won’t be extremely active in potential blockbuster trade talks this month, despite general manager Brian Sabean calling open season on all of the organization’s prospects. The Giants desperately need a spark from somewhere. If Scutaro can ascertain the type of offensive production he put forth in 2012 and 2013, he’ll be a big factor in making the Giants’ offense produce at a high level again.