SAN FRANCISCO – Angel Pagan was in pain during the game. His left shoulder was sore afterward. He got checked by a doctor and was encased in more ice than Encino Man.
But how badly did he hurt himself when he came up short on that diving attempt in the sixth inning Saturday night?
“That question will be (answered) tomorrow,” he said. “I have the adrenaline of the game right now. I was able to shake it off and keep playing. I wanted to stay in. But we’ll find out what it feels like tomorrow.”
The Giants might sprain something by way of fervent finger crossing. They absolutely cannot afford to lose Pagan, who entered sixth in the NL with a .329 average. His 17 multi-hit games were tied for second most in the NL and he’s hit safely in 30 of his 37 starts. He was batting .381 at AT&T Park, too.
And he’s playing solid defense in center field.
Pagan has proven durable thus far. Only Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen and Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez have played more innings in center field that Pagan.
But he landed hard on his left elbow as he tried to catch Garrett Jones’ RBI triple amid the Giants’ 5-0 loss to the Miami Marlins, and his shoulder got jammed as a result. Pagan grabbed at it the rest of the inning and struck out in his at-bat in the eighth.
“I usually try to roll over but my shoulder just got stuck,” Pagan said. “It was really painful.”
Pagan already was “a little sore, nothing major” after his left side collided with the wall when he made a difficult, running catch Friday night.
The Giants hope they only lost a ballgame and nothing more to the team that entered with a 5-16 road record, the worst in the major leagues. Right-hander Tom Koehler had shutdown stuff and the Giants made a critical error to stall their one rally, when Brandon Hicks missed a home run by a couple feet but ended up losing his double when the Marlins challenged that he missed first base.
“That play was costly,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s hard to tell and they may have a different angle. I couldn’t tell to where they could overturn that.”
Hicks said he thought he nicked the bag with his heel. He didn’t care to look at the replays. He made it clear he doesn’t believe in rear-view mirrors unless he’s changing lanes.
“Nothing you can do after the fact,” said Hicks, who had never been called out for missing a base in his life. “I haven’t looked at it. I’ll probably just move on.”
Bochy was under the impression that calls would be overturned only if video evidence was airtight. As we’ve seen, the replay process has its bugs and loopholes. The Giants got a break Friday night when Hunter Pence inadvertently kicked a ground ball in fair territory but umpires didn’t see it and it was a non-reviewable play.
It worked against them on Hicks’ double, which turned into a 1-3 putout that crushed a potential rally.
There is one issue with replay that can and should be changed right away, though. We should know the name of the replay official assigned for each game. And on critical plays, like those that result in a run scoring or coming off the board, the league should release a brief public statement from the replay official to explain what he saw. (And if they make a call based on a conclusive angle not available on any broadcast, they should post that angle on MLB.com for all to see.)
“You’ll have a different group in New York and they’ll see it differently, (in terms of ) what’s conclusive or not in their eyes,” Bochy said.
For the players, the lesson can only be applied to what they control on the field. In Hicks’ case, that means not watching the flight of the ball and making sure you hit the bag.
“The bottom line is it shouldn’t be too close,” Bochy said. “He still felt he nicked it. But it should be hitting the bag with no question. You’re not going to get away with it now.”
One other note from Saturday’s game: it was the 217th consecutive played by Hunter Pence, who is now the major leagues’ official Iron Man. The Rangers’ Prince Fielder held the title but his streak ended at 547 games on Saturday after he received an injection to alleviate a herniated disc in his neck.
Fielder started at DH 20 times in his streak; Pence has never been a DH in his major league career.
Of course, Fielder only got a quarter of the way to the major league record of 2,632, set by Cal Ripken Jr.
“That’s an achievement,” Pence said of Fielder. “That’s a lot of luck, too.”
As for Pagan, the Giants don’t need him to start all 162. They just hope he’s playable Sunday.