SAN DIEGO – Brandon Belt is having a polarizing season amid a polarizing career, but at least he was one of the few Giants players to stay healthy.
Belt was scratched from Sunday’s lineup because of a sprained left wrist that he sustained when he tried to check his swing a night earlier. Buster Posey shifted to first base and Nick Hundley will catch Jeff Samardzija as the Giants try to take two of three in their weekend series against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.
No word yet on whether Belt will go for tests, or this is an injury that could send him to the disabled list. He wore a wrap on his wrist when he left the ballpark on Saturday, and the fact he was in Sunday’s original lineup would suggest that it’s more of a day-to-day thing.
Belt is batting .244 with a .352 on-base percentage and .470 slugging percentage, which qualifies as a down year in his career arc. The average is down and so is the OBP (from the .394 mark he posted last year, fifth best in the NL), but the 16 homers also put him on a pace to hit 28 this season. No other Giants player is on pace to hit 20.
A case could be made that Belt’s name could generate some level of interest prior to the July 31 trade deadline, even if the Giants weren’t outright shopping him.
Belt’s salary jumps from $2.8 million to $16 million next season, and his partial no-trade clause (he can block deals to a list of 10 clubs that he submits) kicks in on Nov. 1.
The Yankees are among the teams that need a first baseman, and Belt’s numbers would profile well if he could trade the right field arcade at AT&T Park for the short porch at Yankee Stadium.
But of course, any health issue would make any kind of deal even tougher to envision. And Belt’s contract begins to look like a hindrance when you consider this context: there are so many productive first basemen who were off the scrap heap this season. Justin Smoak just hit his 24th home run, and then you’ve got Yonder Alonso, Logan Morrison, and Matt Adams, whom the Cardinals basically gave to the Braves for free in May.
Anyway, the best the Giants can hope is that the wrist sprain is minor and it doesn’t sap Belt’s ability to hit for power. They’re deficient enough in that department already.
In other pregame news, Bruce Bochy said Madison Bumgarner is another two starts away from being completely back on a normal routine. The left-hander came out of his seven-inning, 102-pitch return Saturday with no issues.
Bochy said he wouldn’t look to limit Bumgarner’s innings down the stretch.
“Shoot, he wants to pitch,” said Bochy, “and he’s had his workload limited fairly well, I’d say. … I’m sure he feels some responsibility to come back strong to where he’ll help the ball club.”
Mark Melancon continues to throw off flat ground but there’s no timetable for his return.
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