Crawford back, Aoki set to return, Cain progressing
By Owen Perkins
Special to MLB.com |
DENVER -- The Giants are eagerly looking for reinforcements to help reverse their recent fortunes. Manager Bruce Bochy offered an anticipated one-two punch with the return of Brandon Crawford in Friday's 2-1 loss to the Rockies, and the expectation that Nori Aoki will be in left field on Saturday.
Crawford had missed three games since being hit by a pitch Monday by Dodgers reliever Chris Hatcher. He went 0-for-4 on Monday, his first game back after missing five games with tightness in his left oblique.
"He came out early and did some running with [head athletic trainer] Dave Groeschner," Bochy said of Crawford. "He feels like he can go, so he's out there. I think he'll be smart and honest about it."
The 28-year-old shortstop is having his best season at the plate, with career highs in home runs (19) and RBIs (75).
Aoki should be back in the lineup Saturday as Bochy manages a crowded outfield with Angel Pagan in center, Marlon Byrd in right, and a revolving door of players in left.
"I've talked to Nori and said Pagan's going to pretty much be in center field, Byrd in right field," Bochy said before Friday's game. "We're going to go with the hot bat, rotate guys around in left field. He'll probably be in there tomorrow."
Aoki is hitting .287 with five homers, 26 RBIs, and a team-high 14 steals, but he's 0-for-6 lifetime against Friday's starting pitcher for the Rockies, Jorge De La Rosa. Aoki's season has been broken up by a pair of injuries and two stints on the disabled list with a broken leg (June 24 - July 27) and a concussion (Aug. 13-20).
"Nori was having a great year," Bochy said. "He probably makes the All-Star team if he doesn't break his fibula there getting hit by a pitch. Overall he's having a good year, but he was on pace to have a really great year. I feel for Nori. He's been beat up. You break your leg and get hit in the head, and it's been tough. He's been tough through all of this."
Bochy is also juggling Gregor Blanco, Alejandro De Aza and Juan Perez in the outfield, and the vast acreage in Coors Field's left field plays into consideration as he fills out the lineup card each night.
The Giants are also hopeful that help is on the way in the starting rotation, with Matt Cain making his first rehab appearance at Triple-A Sacramento Friday night. Cain pitched two scoreless innings out of the bullpen, allowing one hit and striking out three. He threw 32 pitches, 23 for strikes.
Cain is on the DL with elbow nerve irritation, after missing 79 games at the start of the season with a flexor tendon strain. He has a 2-4 record and a 6.15 ERA in 10 starts this season.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.