SAN DIEGO – Angel Pagan is back at full speed, he has impressive first-step quickness in center field and he is running the bases without reservation.
And that’s amazing to Giants manager Bruce Bochy – especially when you consider that Pagan’s surgery in June was more than a minor repair.
Pagan’s left hamstring tendon wasn’t just fixed, he said. It was removed completely, and the structure of his left leg was altered as a result. He now has two tendons instead of three, and he’ll have to do extra rehab and strengthening work for the rest of his career.
Speed is a vital part of Pagan’s game. And given the surgery, it was a legitimate question whether he’d ever regain it. That loomed as a major concern, considering he has three years and $30 million remaining on his contract.
So the Giants are thrilled with the early returns. And so is Pagan.
“How he’s getting down the line, he’s showing no effects from the surgery or the injury,” Bochy said.
And that’s huge, since the outfield will be a point of emphasis for the Giants this offseason. They needed to know if Pagan could remain mobile enough to stay in center field, among other things. So beginning with the impact he made in last weekend’s series victory at Arizona, Pagan is showing the club something important.
“Yeah, it is,” Bochy said. “I don’t know if they knew if it would slow him down half a step. But he says he feels great. He doesn’t feel anything.”
Pagan told me he received counsel from Jose Reyes, his former teammate with the Mets, who had a similar but even more major surgery. Pagan’s tendon was torn 75 percent through, and when he felt it give in a minor league rehab game at Stockton, his entire knee felt hot. That’s why he didn’t take any chances and had a cart take him off the field – and that’s when he knew there would be no more trying to gut through the injury.
It appears Pagan made the right call. If he had waited to have surgery after the season, he’d be a much bigger question mark entering the spring. Now at least he can play some games, get his confidence back – and inspire some confidence from the front office, too.
“It’s really important for us to have Angel come off this surgery well and not let it affect him,” Bochy said. “It does give us a sense of comfort that as we go into the offseason, to know he’ll be fine for next year. And playing this month is important for Angel, for his peace of mind. It’s, `Hey, I’m healthy. I’m ready to go.’”
Pagan has scar tissue where the tendon used to be, which he has to break through stretching and other exercises.
“Eventually, it will become part of my hamstring,” he said.
The injury isn’t the same as Edgar Renteria’s issue back in 2010. Renteria had a partially torn biceps tendon, after all. But it’s similar in the respect that Renteria instantly felt better once he tore the tendon the rest of the way on a swing. He ended up winning a World Series MVP award, you’ll recall.
Pagan won’t play in a World Series this year, obviously. But he has a pretty aggressive goal.
“I want to get to .500,” said Pagan, which would mean winning 20 of the final 26 games. “It’s a lot of games to win, but if you don’t try to do it, you never know. It’s important to have goals.”