Just when they thought they were getting close to full health, the Giants have been dealt another obstacle with news that first baseman Brandon Belt will miss time (likely two to three weeks) after having his appendix removed.
Belt indirectly broke the news of his ailment with a tweet on Saturday morning, and after Giants manager Bruce Bochy strongly hinted at the chance of the surgery taking the place after Friday night’s game, the team confirmed the news to reporters, including NBC Sports Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic, on Saturday:
Giants say Brandon Belt had appendix removed last night. He'll be able to go home today.— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) June 2, 2018
Belt, 30, has enjoyed a career year in 2018 and has been both the Giants’ best hitter and one of the best hitters in baseball. Over 226 plate appearances, he’s posted a .307/.403/.547 slash line with 11 homers. Both his OPS (.950) and OPS+ (160) rank third among NL hitters, almost surely making him an All-Star and an early MVP candidate.
Belt’s injury comes at an unfortunate time for the Giants, as they were in position to get four former All-Stars — Madison Bumgarner, Mark Melancon, Joe Panik, and Hunter Pence — as well as utility player Alen Hanson all back from the DL within the space of a few days. Belt was removed in the third inning of Friday night’s game (Panik and Melancon’s first game back from the disabled list) after experiencing sharp stomach pain and was taken to a hospital immediately.
With Belt out of the lineup, Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval are expected to split time at first, with Nick Hundley catching when Posey moves to first. The Giants were already expected to make roster moves on Saturday to restore Pence to the active roster, but an extra move may now be required to give them sufficient coverage on the middle infield, as Sandoval had been the club’s primary backup at both second base and shortstop following the decision to option Kelby Tomlinson on Friday night.