Giants outfielder Angel Pagan hasn’t played in Cactus League exhibitions since last Saturday due to lower back problems. The 33-year-old had back surgery last September and came into spring training with no restrictions, but this latest setback has the Giants concerned.
How concerned? Manager Bruce Bochy is thinking about who could play in the outfield in Pagan’s absence, and one of the options that came up was current first baseman Brandon Belt. Via Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News:
When the spring began, Giants GM Brian Sabean made a declarative statement: Brandon Belt was a first baseman, period.
But with Hunter Pence’s arm in a cast and Angel Pagan receiving back injections again, it might be time to change the punctuation.
“I wouldn’t say period,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy on Friday, asked about using Belt to cover a suddenly thin outfield. “More of a comma. It’s currently being discussed. We’ve talked about Brandon. We’ve done it before.”
Belt has played in the outfield before, of course, but hasn’t logged significant time there since 2011. He accrued 27 1/3 defensive innings in left field in 2012, none in ’13, and exactly one inning in right field last year.
If Pagan would be out for any length of time, Gregor Blanco would likely take over in center field. With Hunter Pence out until late April or early May with a broken forearm, right field would be open to Matt Duffy, Adam Duvall, Gary Brown, Juan Perez, and Belt. Then, with first base open, Buster Posey could move out from behind the plate for a little while, which would help his durability over the course of the season.
The Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.
Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:
I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.
In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.
“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”
Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.
For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.