COMMENTARY | Pablo Sandoval has been beset by injuries over the past few seasons.
In 2011, he missed time after surgery to remove a broken hamate bone in his right wrist. Last year, he broke the hamate bone in his other wrist, and he also missed time with a hamstring strain. Unfortunately, for the San Francisco Giants, the injury bug hasn't left Sandoval alone in 2013, either.
According to Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area, Sandoval is currently shelved with a sore right elbow that has been diagnosed as ulnar neuritis, a form of nerve inflammation. It affects his ability to throw, and there's no timetable as to when he'll resume normal baseball activities.
Sandoval has also been diagnosed with a bone spur in his elbow, an injury he's dealt with before and has been described as being "chronic." The spur will not require surgery, but the team will monitor Sandoval's elbow throughout the season.
Obviously, Sandoval is a huge part of the Giants' offense. He's a force in the middle of the order and has the ability to take over a game with his bat. Should he miss any time, the Giants will be forced to use a patchwork solution to cover for him at third base. Marco Scutaro played third when Sandoval missed time last summer, but Scutaro is now firmly entrenched as the team's second baseman. Joaquin Arias performed admirably as a utility infielder last season, but it remains to be seen how he would perform if he was forced into everyday duty. There's no help to be found in the minor leagues, either, as the Giants traded their most major league-ready third baseman Conor Gillaspie earlier this spring.
For now, the Giants appear to have dodged a bullet. Sandoval's injury isn't believed to be serious enough to have him miss time once the regular season starts, and he should be in the lineup when the Giants open up in April. Still, a sore elbow can derail a player's season in short order, so the Giants have to be wary of Sandoval's condition. Expect him to get as many off-days as possible in the early going in an effort to keep his irritated elbow from becoming a much bigger issue.
And look at the bright side: At least Sandoval doesn't have any more hamate bones to break.
Dave Tobener is a San Francisco Bay Area-based writer who has written about the Giants for the better part of a decade. His work has appeared on numerous sports websites, including Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew. You can find him on Twitter @gggiants.
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- Pablo Sandoval
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