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Kapler optimistic despite Belt injury, Giants' skid

Written by 
Published in Baseball
Monday, 23 May 2022 08:30

The reeling San Francisco Giants were swept at home by the San Diego Padres this past weekend and lost another key player to injury, but manager Gabe Kapler is optimistic that the defending National League West champs are still "in good shape."

The Giants announced Sunday that first baseman Brandon Belt, who hit a team-leading 29 home runs during San Francisco's 107-win season in 2021, has been placed on the 10-day injured list with right knee inflammation.

Belt and Kapler both indicated that the 12-year veteran won't be sidelined for a long period, but the injury marks the latest obstacle in a rough stretch for the Giants (22-18), who have lost four straight games and 13 of their last 22.

The Giants are 7-13 this season against teams with winning records and have lost their last five games against the division rival Dodgers and Padres, who swept a series in San Francisco for the first time since 2016. Kapler, however, said before Sunday's 10-1 loss that the Giants remain in "good position."

"It's nice to know that we're still in a good position, even though I think we've faced some significant challenges already this year with our COVID issues to some key players being out for long stretches and not having Brandon Belt available to us regularly," Kapler told reporters, according to MLB.com.

"Sometimes we feel like those things are disproportionately impacting us, and we've had moments where it has felt that way. ... So to assess that and say that we're still in a really strong position and in good shape is reassuring."

The Giants, who start a three-game home series Monday against the NL East-leading Mets, will hope to end their skid without Belt, who said he first experienced swelling in his knee during last week's series in Colorado.

Belt, 34, is batting just .228 with four homers this season and was sidelined earlier this month while on the COVID IL. The former All-Star is the latest regular position player to miss time this season for the Giants, who also have endured long stretches without Evan Longoria, Tommy La Stella, LaMonte Wade Jr., Anthony DeSclafani and Alex Cobb, who will start Monday's series opener.

Kapler said the Giants are "not surprised that we're going through a tougher stretch" and that they expected to have injuries and "periods of poor play" this season. But he emphasized his club will "stay nice and even through this, just like we did last year when times were a little bit tougher."

The Giants recalled infielder Kevin Padlo from Triple-A Sacramento to replace Belt on the active roster. Wilmer Flores and Darin Ruf figure to see the bulk of the playing time at first base while Belt is sidelined.

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