Ryder Jones

As Arroyo shut down, Sandoval's numbers nosedive

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USATSI

As Arroyo shut down, Sandoval's numbers nosedive

SAN FRANCISCO — There is a Houston Astros prospect named Dean Deetz, and in a way, Pablo Sandoval can thank him for his second shot with the Giants. 

Deetz drilled Christian Arroyo on July 1, halting the young third baseman’s bid to return to the Giants for the final two months. With Eduardo Nuñez traded to Boston and Arroyo recovering from minor hand surgery, the Giants turned to Sandoval, who has been a fixture in the middle of their lineup the last couple of weeks. Arroyo hoped to get some time at the hot corner in September, but on Thursday the Giants conceded that won’t happen. 

Arroyo will miss the rest of the regular season, team officials said. The hope is that he can get healthy in time for the Arizona Fall League and then potentially make up lost at-bats in a winter league.

Arroyo is either the organization’s best or second-best hitting prospect, depending on which list you look at. He hit .396 in Triple-A this season and then provided a momentary jolt after he forced his way into the big league lineup. Then the slump came, and overall Arroyo hit just .192 in 34 big league games. He was sent back to the minors and promptly was hit by a couple of pitches. 

It was a season with plenty of highs but a disappointing ending, but Arroyo is still just 22 and looks to be a big part of the future. Has he done enough to go into next spring with a firm grip on a job? 

“I’ll have to answer that later on and see where we’re at,” manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday. “It’s all going to be competitive, that’s the way I look at it. You look at where we’ll finish, and not in the postseason, and you have to stay open-minded on everything.”

This could be setting up for a pretty intriguing spring battle. Arroyo and 23-year-old Ryder Jones were the internal candidates set for a competition, but Sandoval likely will be the everyday third baseman down the stretch. He has shown flashes of his old pre-Boston self and the Giants have been generally pleased with his play. Still, the results aren’t really there. 

Sandoval is hitting .200 since returning, with a .220 on-base percentage and .325 slugging percentage. That's good for a .545 OPS, which is nearly 100 points below his OPS in Boston this season. The Red Sox, at some point, had seen enough.  

Bochy said he has taken positives away from Sandoval's energy and some of his bigger moments, particularly the upper-deck homer he hit off Max Scherzer over the weekend. That’s his only homer with the Giants so far, but it made an impression. 

“He’s got the bat speed,” Bochy said. “That’s one of the longest homers we’ve seen this year. That shows (the bat speed) is there.”

Jones has been a fixture as well, playing first base in place of Brandon Belt. He has looked much better the second time around, but his average is still below .200 and his OPS of .559 is just about equal to Sandoval's. The Giants have not seen enough from anyone to have a favorite to play third base next season, and Bochy said the same holds true at other positions. 

"We've got to stay open-minded about who is going to be where next year (and) playing time," he said. "It's up to us to adjust and get better."

Giants give their view of Harper's knee injury: 'He was in pretty good pain'

Giants give their view of Harper's knee injury: 'He was in pretty good pain'

WASHINGTON D.C. — Ryder Jones saw two big men sprinting his way and thought that there was going to be a collision in the rain at Nationals Park. Jones and Jeff Samardzija avoided injury. Bryce Harper, however, wasn't as lucky.

Harper, the superstar right fielder here in Washington D.C., crumpled after slipping on first base in the first inning Saturday night. The injury stunned a crowd that waited three hours for the rain-delayed game, which the Nationals won 3-1. 

Harper was diagnosed with a hyperextended left knee. He will have an MRI on Sunday to determine if there are further injuries.

"It didn't look good. I hope he's alright," Jones said. "It was one of those freak plays where you think there's going to be a collision but there wasn't. The tops of the bases were wet from the rain. I stepped on the base and jumped out of the way. I didn't really notice anything when I tagged the base and then I heard all the fans go 'ohhhh.' 

"He looked like he was in pretty good pain. You never want that to happen to a player."

Harper was hurt about 20 minutes after the first pitch, which came three hours later than planned because of a storm that hit Nationals Park in the evening. It was unclear why Major League Baseball did not push Friday’s postponed game to Saturday afternoon, when the skies were clear. The teams ended up going through their routines for a 7:05 start, but as Samardzija headed to the dugout to start warming up, the Giants were told they would be delayed. 

They scrambled to get a new start time at a park where just about every rain-related decision this season has backfired. At 7:57 p.m., the rain finally arrived in sheets. The teams did not take the field until 10:06 p.m., and neither manager altered his lineup despite a steady drizzle that kept the field soaked from the start. Bruce Bochy checked the field and thought it looked fine. 

The Giants took an early lead on a Joe Panik homer, but the Nationals struck right back, threatening with Wilmer Difo’s one-out double in the bottom of the first. Harper pulled a hard grounder that looked like an RBI double before it found Jones’ outstretched glove. Jones got up and raced Harper and Samardzija to the bag, in what was an odd coincidence. It was Samardzija who was racing into a scrum earlier this season to get to Harper, but Michael Morse got in the way and saw his season end instead. 

As Jones stepped on first, he deftly moved to his right to get out of Harper’s way. Harper slipped on the top of the bag and skidded forward, his knee twisting grotesquely. After a couple of minutes on the ground, he was helped off the field with his legs hanging in the air. 

"I saw a guy hustling to try to get a hit," Samardzija said. "You wait around three hours and you come out and everyone wants to play. It was tough conditions. It's tough to see, especially with a kid who plays so hard and cares so much. Hopefully it's not as bad as they think and he comes back sooner rather than later."

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' delayed loss to Nationals

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Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' delayed loss to Nationals

BOX SCORE

WASHINGTON D.C. — At 1:16 a.m. at Nationals Park, the Giants lost the game 3-1. The home team lost much more than that on this night. 

Nationals superstar right fielder Bryce Harper appeared to suffer a serious injury to his left knee in the first inning, putting another dark cloud over a long night. The Nationals scored two runs in that inning and that would be all they needed. 

A night after the teams were rained out, they waited three hours and one minute to get started because of an ugly storm that drenched the area. The crowd stayed engaged, but within minutes, a hush fell over Nationals Stadium. Harper slipped on first base while trying to beat out a grounder to Ryder Jones, and his knee went the wrong direction. He immediately grabbed at it as he rolled on the ground, and he was helped off the field without putting any pressure on his leg.

The Nationals did not have an update during the game. For now, here are five things to know from a wet night … 

—- Ryder Jones isn’t hitting much, but he sure plays a nice first base. His diving stop robbed Andrew Stevenson of a single in the fifth. Jones also showed his athleticism a couple of ways on the Harper play, first by stopping the hard shot and then by twisting his body to avoid a collision with Harper at the bag. 

—- The Giants are looking at 27 innings of baseball in about 24 hours, so every out from Jeff Samardzija was huge. He threw 120 pitches on a humid night while getting through six innings. He tied Matt Moore for the most pitches thrown by a Giants starter this season. 

—- Mark Melancon pitched the eighth, making his first appearance since June 27. He gave up a single and struck out one. His fastball topped out at 93 mph. That's a good sign on the first night back. 

—- Joe Panik opened the scoring with a long homer in the first. It was his seventh of the year. He has a chance to surpass his career-high of 10. 

—- Denard Span is in a funk. He rolled out to second three times in four plate appearances, and he has just five hits in his last 41 at-bats.