Pagan proud hard work paid off in strong return

Pagan proud hard work paid off in strong return

PHOENIX -- Giants left fielder Angel Pagan returned with a bang Friday night after missing 11 consecutive games because of a Grade 1 left hamstring strain.

Pagan -- batting ninth -- walked, singled and scored a run in his first two plate appearances. He scored when Joe Panik hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning off D-backs starter Shelby Miller to provide all of San Francisco's runs in a 3-1 win at Chase Field.

The way Pagan's career has gone lately, his most recent injury setback might have been frustrating, but no.

"Why would it be frustrating?" said Pagan, who was back in the lineup again Saturday, batting seventh in the third game of the four-game series. "I was too busy getting back, trying to be healthy. There's no time for me to get frustrated, man. It's a long season."

The Giants had faith Pagan would make it back and decided not to place him on the 15-day disabled list. Making that decision bought them four days, but left them playing with a 24-man roster for 11. On the scale of severity, a Grade 1 strain is the slightest of that injury, with a Grade 4 the most severe.

In comparison, Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez suffered the same grade hamstring injury May 3 in Baltimore and was immediately placed on the DL. The Yankees come into town Monday for a three-game series against the D-backs and A-Rod is still on the shelf.

Give Pagan credit.

"You see, I worked hard, then," said Pagan, batting .319 with two homers and 13 RBIs. "I feel proud of what I did."

Pagan has been in and out of the lineup the last few seasons. He played in 133 games last season because of sore knees and missed 66 games in 2014 with inflammation in his lower back. In the end, he underwent surgery to repair a bulging disk.

He's a free agent at the end of the season. This past offseason, the Giants signed Denard Span to a three-year contract and put him in center field, moving Pagan to left.

Pagan bristled when asked how he's coped with all the injuries.

"It's part of the game," he said. "You're susceptible to injuries when you use your body. I know exactly why this injury happened. I'm not going to make any excuse and talk about it. I could have prevented it. But it happened, so I just have to accept it and move on."

Consider it another learning experience.

"Of course, of course, you always learn from something," Pagan said. "I've never had any hamstring issues in my career, ever. That's why you have good preparation. The injuries I've had in the past are just wear and tear. It's not like I'm soft or anything.

"When you have almost 20 years playing baseball, it's all right to have a bulging disk. It's OK to have tendinitis in your knees or scar tissue. It could happen to anybody. It's because of the way I play. I play aggressive."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.