SAN DIEGO –- The Giants clubhouse doors swung shut for a players-only meeting, and if this is where they turn around their season, it will go down as the Independence Day Intervention.
They also received a reinforcement in the form of first baseman Brandon Belt, who had a follow-up X-ray on his left thumb that came back clean and is in the lineup for the first time since sustaining a fracture May 10 at Dodger Stadium.
But it’ll be awhile before Angel Pagan rejoins the group as well. In fact, it’s plausible that second baseman Marco Scutaro could be activated before Pagan, who won’t return before the All-Star break.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy confirmed that Pagan wouldn’t return before the break, and might not be ready when the club resumes play July 18 at Miami, either.
“That’s fair to say with the time he’s missed,” Bochy said. “After getting the epidural (Wednesday) it’ll be at least a week if not longer. And to get him in the type of shape he needs to play, it would be a rehab situation (in the minors), too.
“So I can’t tell you for sure he’ll be ready right after the All-Star break, either.”
Until then, Hunter Pence will get an extended look in the leadoff spot and Bochy hopes to create some traffic by hitting Belt second. That’s the way they are lining up Friday. Bochy is loading up right-handed bats against Padres lefty Eric Stults, and he’s giving Joaquin Arias a shot to reestablish himself at second base.
Arias is hitting just .181 and his eight RBI (in 94 at-bats) represent the same number Madison Bumgarner has driven in (over 37 at-bats). Most shocking, Arias does not have an extra-base hit hit this season.
Bochy didn’t exactly light up when asked if he liked the matchup with Arias. But the manager has no other options that appeal to him, obviously.
“We have to keep him in the mix,” Bochy said. “You have to remind yourself this guy helped us a lot last year and he’s still a part of the club and we need to get him going, too. He’s been getting better swings off. I think he’s gotten stronger. I see his bat getting through the zone better.”
As for that meeting, it came one day after Bochy and GM Brian Sabean met with a small council of team leaders they tasked with disseminating a message: Get mad, get a sense of urgency, play like it’s September now, every game is crucial, and if you want club officials to believe this team is worth investing in trade deadline improvements, the time to convince them is now.
As Sabean told Yahoo SportsTalk Live earlier this week: “They’ve got to play better and they’ve got to be more competitive and play better at home. If they don’t, then I guess turning into a pumpkin was bound to happen.”