The Giants suffered yet another ding to their starting lineup Thursday in Miami when Evan Longoria fractured the fifth metacarpal (pinkie finger) of his left hand in the fourth inning of what turned out to be a marathon 16-inning, 6-3 Giants win over the Marlins.
The Giants Gold Glove third baseman was leading off the inning when Marlins starter Dan Straily threw an 89-mph fastball that plunked the back of Longoria’s left hand. He stayed in the game to run the bases, but was replaced by Alen Hanson after getting caught up in a double play.
Longoria’s 2018 slash (.246/.278/.434.) has been modest, and he’s had some surprising struggles in the field in his short Giants career. He leads National League third basemen in errors with 11 and is tied for the second-most errors in all of Major League Baseball. But he’s also tied with fellow offseason acquisition Andrew McCutchen for the Giants RBI lead (34) and with 10 home runs he trails only team leader Brandon Belt, by just one.
There is no word yet on whether the fracture will require surgery or will simply be treated with immobilization.
Longoria told MLB.com:
“My job now is just to work towards getting healthy and be as supportive as I can in the process. I think we’ll have a little bit more information in terms of the plan in the next couple of days. Obviously, the goal is to decide something as soon as possible and get going in the right direction; whether that’s put a cast on it and just let it sit or have some sort of surgery and go that route.”
The Giants backup third baseman, Pablo Sandoval, has been plugging the hole at first base as Belt remains sidelined recovering from a June 2 appendectomy. It’s likely that in the meantime Hanson will see the lion’s share of playing time at third base, though the Giants have some healthy flexibility. Sandoval can move over to third on days when Buster Posey takes a vacation from catching and steps in at first.
Madison Bumgarner sustained an injury similar to Longoria’s on a line drive off his left hand in his final start of Spring Training. After missing the first two months of the season with a fractured left pinkie knuckle, Bumgarner finally made his first start of 2018 on June 5, the day before the Giants started their current road trip.
Longoria said he believes his injury is less-severe than Bumgarner’s, though, and unlike Bumgarner he is neither a lefty nor a pitcher, so he thinks the injury will not be as difficult for him to come back from:
“I’ll push as hard as I can to get back as soon as I can. I’m right-hand dominant, so there are some things I can do to in the meantime to keep up some strength, so I’m not too far behind the 8-ball when it’s right for me to start a rehab [assignment].”
The open roster spot could spell opportunity for a young Triple-A farmhand like either Austin Slater (.355/.437/.574, 21 doubles, 30 RBI and eight stolen bases) or Steven Duggar (.290/.362/.441, three triples, 21 doubles and 10 stolen bases), either of whom could infuse life into to an offensively sagging outfield. But considering the fact that the Giants are coming off a swath of bullpen-heavy games capped with Friday’s 16-inning doozy, San Francisco might instead consider adding a reliever like Pierce Johnson with an eye toward surviving the streak of 17 games sans a day off they’re currently only seven games into.
As the Giants aim to buckle down and get through yet another blow to their starting nine, Longoria had a positive spin to put on the team’s setback:
“The last time I broke a bone in my wrist [with the Rays], we went to the World Series in 2008. I came back at the end of that year, and we finished strong. So I’m going to hold onto that memory right there and use this win today to kind of catapult us in the right direction.”
The Giants start a three-game series with the Dodgers Friday to end their three-city road trip. Derek Holland (4-6, 4.54 ERA) is slated to toe the rubber against Dodgers righty Ross Stripling (5-1, 1.65 ERA). The Giants will face the Marlins again upon their return to San Francisco Monday, leading off a 10-game, three-series homestand.