Slater sidelined as injuries pile up for reeling SF Giants

SAN FRANCISCO – With scruffy blonde facial hair still gracing his upper lip, Austin Slater walked in to the Giants clubhouse Monday afternoon with head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner by his side.

Slater had just finished taking some practice cuts to test the left wrist he jammed during an at-bat Sunday. He politely declined reporters’ interview request, allowing manager Gabe Kapler to break the unfortunate news a few moments later. Slater (left wrist inflammation) became the seventh Giants player and fourth in the past four days to land on the injured list.

The next time Slater plays baseball for the San Francisco Giants, that mustache will likely be nothing but a memory, as he was placed on the 10-day injured list before Monday’s series opener with the New York Mets. He won’t be eligible to rejoin the Giants until June 2, with Mustache May in the rear view mirror.

“After the swing and the discomfort he felt yesterday… he did not really feel like he was able to complete the at-bat the way he wanted to, so one of the questions was that possible it could happen again?” Kapler said. “I think we had enough trepidation there where it made some sense to let it calm down a little bit.”

Slater has been swinging a hot bat (7-for-26, 10 walks, 9 strikeouts over his past 16 games) and would have likely been in the Giants’ lineup Monday night against Mets left-hander David Peterson. It raised eyebrows when Joc Pederson, a left-handed hitter, pinch-hit for Slater in the fifth inning Sunday against Padres lefty Mackenzie Gore. Slater, it was later revealed, felt discomfort in his left wrist while swinging at a changeup during his second at-bat, in the third inning.

On Monday, Stuart Fairchild was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento and slotted in to Slater’s spot in center field, batting ninth. It was the 16th career game at the major-league level for Fairchild, 26, a career .273 / .361 / .441 hitter over five minor-league seasons who came over last month for cash considerations after being designedated for assignment by Seattle.

“Excited to see him do his thing,” Kapler said. “Good reputation of being a strong defensive outfielder, quality at-bats against left-handed pitching. Good spring speed. Fast base runner. Looking forward to seeing what he can contribute. ”

Fairchild’s arrival marked the fourth and final of the players acquired in a flurry of trades with the Mariners last month to make his debut with San Francisco. One player, Mike Ford, has already been sent back to Seattle. Another, utility man Donovan Walton, played one game and was optioned back to Triple-A Sacramento. The other, power-hitting infielder Kevin Padlo, was batting fifth and playing first base Monday night after rejoining the roster Sunday to take the place of yet another injured Giant.

Already reeling, coming off a series sweep at home to the division-rival Padres, the Giants have now lost four players to the injured list in the past four days. Lingering knee issues sent LaMonte Wade Jr. back to the IL on Friday, then Brandon Belt on Sunday. In between, on Saturday, Curt Casali sustained a minor concussion and was still unavailable Monday.

“It’s a challenge, but we’re kind of past it,” Kapler said. “In our minds, nobody cares. What we care about is putting together the best lineup with the group that we have, trying to win today’s baseball game. ”

In total, Kapler is missing seven of his chess pieces, giving the organization’s depth its second stress test in as many months. Giants players have missed a total of 251 games because of injuries this season. In 41 games, they have already used 47 players.

The Giants’ losing streak reached four games Sunday for the second time this season, after dropping four straight games twice during their entire 107-win campaign last season. It’s no coincidence that their worst stretches of baseball have coincided with their biggest health issues.

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