Programming note: Giants-Pirates coverage kicks off today at 3:30 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.
PITTSBURGH – As expected, the Giants placed Pablo Sandoval on the disabled list Tuesday. But club officials insisted that their All-Star third baseman does not have a fracture in his left foot, and he should be ready to return when his 15 days are up June 24.
Sandoval had an X-ray in which a previous fracture showed up, but another MRI exam confirmed that the injury was three or four years old and had healed completely, said head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner. Sandoval was diagnosed with a strained peroneal tendon in his mid outer foot – the same injury he sustained at the end of May and aggravated Friday in Arizona.
“We think with 15 days on the DL, this will calm down and we’ll be good to go,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who would get the Kung Fu Panda back just as the Giants begin their next road trip June 24 at Dodger Stadium.
The confusion came in large measure because Giants CEO Larry Baer gave a radio interview in which he made reference to a fracture.
“Broken? No. It’s the tendon,” Bochy said.
Groeschner said Sandoval would be in a walking boot for one week and be reevaluated after that. In the meantime, the Giants hustled back infielder Nick Noonan, who had played in just one game (collecting two hits) for Triple-A Fresno. Noonan was expected to arrive at PNC Park before the first pitch Tuesday.
Joaquin Arias becomes the starting third baseman, with Noonan serving as the backup.
“With him and Noonan and (Tony) Abreu, we can ham-and-egg this until we get Pablo back,” Bochy said.
Sandoval might have to reduce his ham and egg consumption over the next two weeks. He’s been asked to focus on dropping some weight while on the disabled list.
His conditioning obviously wasn’t to blame for his two fractured hamate bones in each of the previous two seasons; that’s a common baseball injury among players who swing while resting the knob of the bat on their palm. Sandoval, a switch hitter, did it on both sides.
And it’s hard to make a case that his foot injury is a product of his weight. He injured it initially while turning his foot in a soft batter’s box. Barry Zito strained his foot two years ago, and nobody would call him overweight.
But any time Sandoval struggles or gets hurt, his weight becomes a lightning rod.
“Sure, that will be the question a lot of people will ask,” Bochy said. “It’s hard to answer whether it played a part in this injury. I don’t think anybody can answer that. Did (Angel) Pagan hurt his (hamstring) because he’s in too good shape? You can’t answer those things.”
Said Groeschner: “I don’t think it will have an impact on how this injury heals.”
That said, nobody is denying that Sandoval is heavier than the team would like. So weight loss “will be a priority,” said Bochy, over these two weeks when Sandoval can do more conditioning work since he doesn’t have to conserve his energy for games.
“He knows he needs to lose some weight,” Groeschner said. “He’ll continue to work on that while he’s injured.”
Pagan will need more time, too. Bochy said the center fielder and leadoff man won’t come off the disabled list when eligible Thursday because his strained hamstring needs more time to heal.
“I’m following the protocol,” said Pagan, who hadn’t planned to do any jogging or baseball work Tuesday. “We’re just going by how it feels every day, so I don’t have a date I can give you.”
In the meantime, it’s a big day here in Pittsburgh, where the Pirates are 11 games over .500 and debuting right-hander Gerrit Cole, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft. If you believe the billing, he’s better than Kris Benson or Brian Bullington. The Pirates certainly hope so. You still see Barry Bonds jerseys around here – since his last year as a Pirate, in 1992, was the last time the Buccos finished with a winning record.
Cole’s girlfriend, Amy Crawford – the sister of Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford – traveled to Pittsburgh on Tuesday and will be in the stands.
Careful, Gerrit. Brandon had a career-high four hits on Saturday.