Pence likely to have surgery, miss 8 weeks

Pence likely to have surgery, miss 8 weeks

ST. LOUIS -- Giants right fielder Hunter Pence is expected to undergo surgery to remove a torn right hamstring tendon, which could sideline one of San Francisco's top run producers for approximately eight weeks.

The Giants are still consulting physicians about their medical options with Pence, who injured himself while sprinting to first base in Wednesday night's 5-4, 11-inning loss at Atlanta. Head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner said Friday that until those discussions have ended, the Giants won't officially declare that Pence will need surgery.

However, Groeschner said, "I think we're headed in that direction."

Even the typically upbeat Pence indicated surgery appeared imminent.

"The good news is that there's going to be a lot of season left to play when I come back," he said. "So there's a lot to look forward to and that is exciting."

Pence injured running to first

The length of the recovery period could vary somewhat, depending on the rate of Pence's healing and what surgeons discover when they perform the procedure. But if no surprises arise, Pence could return to the Giants' lineup with two months remaining in the regular season.

"It's better that it happened right now than at the end of the season," outfielder Gregor Blanco said.

Pence, 33, will be welcomed back enthusiastically once he regains full health. He leads San Francisco with 36 RBIs and ranks second on the club with seven home runs and a .298 batting average. Without Pence, the Giants' erratic offense could struggle further unless other players fill the void.

"It'll be critical that we get a little more consistent with the offense," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

Said Blanco, who could become essentially an everyday player in Pence's absence, "Hunter is a big, big, big piece on this team. At the same time, we have guys here who can step it up."

Bochy sounded as if he'll consider all options to replace Pence in the lineup. Possibilities include rookies Jarrett Parker, who started his second straight game in Friday's series opener against St. Louis, and Mac Williamson. Bochy also mentioned utility man Kelby Tomlinson, who has started twice in left. Parker has demonstrated the most power, but Williamson and Tomlinson stand out if Bochy wants a right-handed-batting alternative to balance the Giants' left-handed-heavy lineup.

Bochy even included first baseman Brandon Belt, who has started 48 Major League games in left, among his potential fill-ins. Catcher Buster Posey would occupy first base if Belt were to change positions.

"It's about getting creative, so it could be Belt," Bochy said.

Though the potential for a trade always exists, Bochy said the more likely preferences are within the organization rather than from the outside. Moreover, filling the outfield complement will become simpler in a week to 10 days when left fielder Angel Pagan (left hamstring) is reinstated from the disabled list.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.