LOS ANGELES — Still unable to swing a bat almost a week after dislocating his left pinky finger on a headfirst slide into second base, Giants outfielder Austin Slater was placed on the injured list before Monday night’s series opener against the Dodgers.
Slater hasn’t started a game since injuring his finger last Tuesday, but he has entered as a pinch-runner and a defensive replacement, meaning his IL stint was only retroactive to Sunday. Reliever Yunior Marte, a player manager Gabe Kapler singled out as a possible September call-up, was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento and took Slater’s spot on the roster.
After replacing Joc Pederson in left field for the ninth inning on Saturday, Slater made a diving catch for the second-to-last out but landed on his injured hand and didn’t appear in Sunday’s game.
Asked before Sunday’s game if an IL stint could still be in the cards for Slater, Kapler indicated it was unlikely.
“We’ve come a pretty long ways with Austin and hung in there,” Kapler said. “It would probably make sense to see this through if we can. … Ultimately this is going to be a pain tolerance thing.”
Slater took swings in the batting cage Saturday, Kapler said, “but probably not at a speed where we would feel comfortable having him pinch-hit in a game.
“Obviously we’re without Slates, which is a challenge because we have four left-handed pitchers coming up in a row most likely. You always want Slates in the lineup and at the top of the lineup when you can have him (against lefties).”
Slater’s absence will be particularly noticeable during a stretch of games that features a swath of left-handed starters, beginning Monday night with Los Angeles southpaw Andrew Heaney. Heaney is scheduled to be followed by two more left-handers, Tyler Anderson and Clayton Kershaw, in the final two games here.
Kapler called it a “challenge” facing the stretch of lefties without one of the best lefty mashers. Slater has an .809 OPS against lefties this season, a 133 wRC+ that is 33% better than the major-league average.
Instead, it was recently acquired Lewis Brinson leading off and manning center field the past two days.
“Brinson’s had some really good success against left-handed pitchers this year at the minor league level but also historically throughout his career,” Kapler said Sunday. “It’s a good opportunity for him.”
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