Giants

Giants' Austin Slater ready to take big step in rehab from groin injury

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USATSI

Giants' Austin Slater ready to take big step in rehab from groin injury

SAN FRANCISCO — Austin Slater is quietly one of the fastest players in the Giants organization, but at some point this week, he will hope for the best from a slow jog. 

Slater is nearly to the point where he’ll be cleared to start running, and if that goes well, the Giants will increase his activity and start to target a rehab assignment. The rookie outfielder has missed 35 games with a right groin strain but the Giants are confident Slater will return in September. Originally, there was some thought that he would be out the rest of the year. Slater should begin running this week. 

“Running is the biggest hurdle,” Slater said. “I’ve been throwing and swinging. I’m swinging at 100 percent. That’s where the optimism comes in.”

Slater will take batting practice with the team on Friday. It’ll be his first time doing that since he went down in the second week of July. He has mostly been doing agility work in recent days and said it has gone well. 

Elsewhere on the injury front, there is good news and bad news. Miguel Gomez had a setback with his knee and he won’t start a rehab assignment as hoped. Gomez is in a holding pattern for now, but Bochy believes the Giants are fine on the infield. In an emergency, Buster Posey can play first and Ryder Jones can back up other infield positions. Orlando Calixte also provides coverage. 

The good news is that Johnny Cueto will throw another bullpen session on Friday. He could pitch a rehab game soon. Also, here are updates on Brandon Belt and Joe Panik. 

Will Brandon Belt return this season for Giants after yet another concussion?

Will Brandon Belt return this season for Giants after yet another concussion?

SAN FRANCISCO — It has been nearly two weeks since Brandon Belt walked out of AT&T Park with yet another concussion. On Friday he could take a big step. 

Belt will do some light cardio in hopes of ramping up the rehab process. That is generally the biggest step for concussed players. Often times, that cardio session leads to a longer shutdown when the player feels discomfort from activity. The Giants are hopeful that Belt will report only positive signs. 

“He seems to be doing a little better,” manager Bruce Bochy said. 

There is no timetable for Belt’s return, but the club hopes to get him back in the heart of the lineup down the stretch. That leads to an obvious question: Why would the Giants play him? Belt has suffered four concussions in the last eight years and he is a member of a last-place team that’s in a fight for the first pick in the draft. Doesn’t it make sense to just shut him down, make sure he gets fully healthy, and prepare for 2018? 

“I know there’s talk about it, but I know for Brandon, he would like to get back,” Bochy said. “You hate to go into the offseason with six or seven weeks of not playing again, but at the same time we’ll make sure he’s completely recovered. If not, we won’t put him out there.”

Part of the shame of all this is that regardless of when Belt returns, he will have missed an opportunity to really put his stamp on a nice season. Belt leads all first baseman in defensive runs saved (12) and he would have had a very strong argument for his first Gold Glove Award. It’s possible he gets back in time to hold off Paul Goldschmidt and Anthony Rizzo. It’s also possible he gets back in time to shatter his career-high in homers. Belt is at 18 for the second time in three years, and before he went down he was on pace for about 30. The Giants will have a better idea of Belt's ability to return on Friday. 

As for the other concussed Giant, there was less information about Joe Panik. He will be reevaluated on Friday.