SAN FRANCISCO -- Dan Uggla arrived in the Giants clubhouse to find Will Clark’s old No. 22 waiting for him. In fact, the nameplate above Uggla’s locker had Clark’s name on it, too. He uses it when he’s in town as a special instructor.
The lesson here: Never call clubhouse manager Mike Murphy a pessimist.
“We like to look at players who have a track record, and he does,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, while explaining he plans for Uggla to be the everyday second baseman. “The timing for this was perfect because we need help at second base.”
It’s been a season-long hunger, aside from a brief gobble of home runs in April and May from Brandon Hicks. And the need became acute Thursday when Ehire Adrianza re-strained his hamstring and it had become evident Marco Scutaro was too compromised by his chronic back ailment to justify a roster spot.
The Giants put Adrianza and Scutaro on the disabled list and purchased Uggla’s contract from Triple-A Fresno after he was 2 for 7 with two walks in two games for the Grizzlies. Uggla is in the starting lineup hitting seventh Friday night as the Giants begin an anticipated three-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In a somewhat surprising move, the club also re-signed infielder Tony Abreu, who had been getting off better left-handed swings for Fresno. The Giants were desperate for any offense off the bench, and Bochy said that’s why Abreu is here.
(Interesting side note: Abreu, who was 11 for 30 with two homers and three doubles over his last eight games for Fresno, actually used an opt-out in his contract when the Giants signed Uggla and was granted his release on Monday. Abreu didn’t sign with another team and now, four days after waving goodbye, he’s not only back in the organization but in the big leagues.)
Although it could change if the Giants acquire a second baseman in the seven days before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, for now Uggla is the second baseman on this club.
“He’s a guy you feared when he came to the plate,” Bochy said of Uggla, who averaged 32.6 home runs and 91.4 RBI over a five-year span from 2007-2011. “Dangerous hitter and he was a threat with his intensity and hustle. He loves to play the game and play it right.”
The 34-year-old became essentially a free player because he hit .162 with two home runs in 48 games this year before Atlanta released him last week. He struggled to a .179 average with 22 homers last year.
“Just inconsistent,” Uggla said. “I feel like I’m past that and I’m ready to contribute here.”
Uggla and Cody Ross are very good friends going back to their time with the Florida Marlins. Uggla figures there’s no reason he can’t do what Ross and Pat Burrell did as reclamation projects in 2010. He is coming off a longer unproductive streak than either of those players, however.
“I wanted him to get more at-bats (at Fresno),” Bochy said. “Is he quite ready? It just wasn’t quite possible with the injuries we’re having right now.
As for Scutaro, Bochy said the 38-year-old’s back issue made it difficult “for us to use him as much as he’d like or we’d like,” Bochy said. Scutaro will resume his rehab and Bochy said he hopes to get him back on the roster as soon as possible. But barring significant improvement, it’s hard to imagine the Giants being able to carry him until rosters expand Sept. 1.
The Giants needed to see what Scutaro had before the trade deadline, just as they need to find out what Uggla has. They remain on the lookout for a second baseman and starting pitcher and I’m told they continue to keep tabs on the Mets, who fit their needs with Daniel Murphy and Bartolo Colon while having a realistic ask in terms of prospects. Colon’s $11 million salary for 2015 remains the biggest hurdle to a deal. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reported the Mets are prepared to eat just $2 million of Colon’s salary.
There wasn’t any other clear update on Brandon Belt, Angel Pagan and Matt Cain. Belt is feeling better but hasn’t started any baseball activities, and although Bochy won’t rule out his activation from the 7-day concussion DL on Sunday, it’s looking remote right now. Pagan graduated to taking live batting practice but still hasn’t cleared himself to start a minor league rehab assignment. Until that happens, Bochy won’t provide a timetable for his return although GM Brian Sabean told KNBR they could get him back on the next road trip. Cain, who has an inflamed elbow, hasn’t picked up a baseball and there are no immediate plans for him to do so. That’s the most ominous non-update update of all.
Pitcher Jose De Paula and infielder Nick Noonan were designated for assignment to clear 40-man roster space for Uggla and Abreu.