Injuries force Bochy to play Belt

Every time Bruce Bochy constructs a lineup without Brandon Belt, someone finds a way to injure themselves, forcing the Giants skipper to use the slumping Baby Giraffe.

Last week, Hector Sanchez landed on the DL after spraining his knee.

Now, Pablo Sandoval might have to miss time after straining his hamstring while stretching for a throw while playing first base during Tuesday night’s win over the San Diego Padres.

Sandoval had started the last two games at first base, with Joaquin Arias playing third. The Giants haven’t put Sandoval on the DL yet because they are still waiting for tests. But Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp spent two stints on the DL with similar hamstring issues this season.

Belt has just one hit in his last 22 at-bats, so you can understand why Bochy has been reluctant to play him. But now, he may have no other choice.

Bochy talked to The Chronicle’s John Shea on Monday about Belt:

“He said his confidence has been shaken a little bit. Well, you’re forced to make a move when you hear that. He needs a break to get that back. Get back to making good swings and making contact.”

“I think with him, it’s probably more mental, but at the same time, this is a tough game. You’ve got to man up and battle through these things.”

Bochy could play Buster Posey at first base and have Eli Whiteside catch, but the team would miss Sanchez’s bat in the lineup. Whiteside offers basically zero offensive upside.

Also, since Sandoval is normally the emergency catcher , the Giants can’t play both Posey and Whiteside at the same time if Sandoval is hurt. Using both catchers to start a game is too risky, in case of injury.

If the Giants find out Sandoval’s injury is serious, they may have to scramble for a first or third baseman from other teams. With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, there are a few options for the Giants to consider.

Though I don’t think a big move is likely, GM Brian Sabean could make a stop-gap move until Sandoval is healthy. The market for first basemen is extremely thin. There are a few more options at third base right now:

Ty Wigginton (Phillies) – He’s a versatile veteran that has played first and third this season and can play second. The Giants wouldn’t have to pay much as he’s only owed under $2 million for the rest of the season.

Placido Palanco (Phillies) – The Phillies are a surprise non-contender this year and could look to sell off spare parts over the next six days. In addition to Wigginton, Palanco could be available. He’s owed about $30 million for the rest of the year and he’s a high-character guy that would be a good addition to the clubhouse.

Chase Headley (San Diego) – The Padres are fielding offers for the young third baseman, and all reports are that their price is steep. If the Giants are willing to pay the price for the 28-year-old, they could make him the full-time third baseman and move Sandoval to first base permanently. Headley is arbitration-eligible for the next two seasons.

Aramis Ramirez (Milwaukee) – Another player is under team control for a few years, Ramirez could also allow the Giants to shift Pablo to first base for good. Ramirez is a bopper, averaging 30 home runs a season. But he’s owed $10 million in 2013 and $16 million in 2014. I doubt the Giants want to take on that salary.

Of course, the Giants could always bring back Brett Pill from Fresno and give him a chance to play first base.

For now, though, Belt will get yet another extended shot to prove himself. With a day game after a night game, Belt is in Wednesday’s lineup, where I expect to see him for the next few games.