How Alex Wood's IL stint impacts Giants' starting rotation plans

·3 min read

Shoulder impingement sidelines Wood after tough stretch originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO -- A few minutes before the Giants announced on Friday afternoon that Brandon Belt and Jose Alvarez had season-ending surgeries, Alex Wood walked off the field at Oracle Park with members of the training staff. He had tried to continue pushing through a left shoulder impingement, but the Giants decided on Saturday that Wood needed a break.

The veteran lefty went on the IL and was replaced on the active roster by outfielder Bryce Johnson. It's possible Wood's second season in San Francisco is over, but the Giants weren't ready to concede that on Saturday. Manager Gabe Kapler said Wood had been pitching through the discomfort because the Giants were hoping to stay alive in the postseason race when he took the mound earlier this week against the San Diego Padres.

"I think he just wanted to post and wanted to post but he's had some impingement in his shoulder for quite some time," Kapler said. "Going back five or six days we all felt like he was still very much the best option for us to win baseball games and going back that same amount of time I think Alex believed that he gave us the best chance of winning and was going to post.

"Alex knows his body very well and knows when it's time to really hit the gas pedal and to push himself. I think he had a good feel for this thing all the way through and right now I don't think that he can push through for this next start. That doesn't mean that he won't be ready at some point this season to continue to pitch for us."

Kapler said the Giants would wait about a week before deciding how to handle Wood for the rest of the season. They could ramp him back up to start games at the end of the year -- and Kapler noted how competitive Wood is -- but he also is signed through next season and the Giants will at some point prioritize the future health of players under team control.

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The immediate replacement will be a familiar one: Everybody. The Giants plan to go with a bullpen game in Wood's spot on Tuesday in Los Angeles, but they are likely to need more traditional depth if they decide Wood won't return. On this next trip, they have eight games in seven days in three cities. It will be taxing, and the staff likely will watch the innings of other starters down the stretch.

Sam Long was supposed to be the first line of defense but he's on the IL. Sean Hjelle could be an option for bulk innings in September and Tristan Beck, a right-hander acquired in the Mark Melancon trade in 2019, has also pitched well in Sacramento. The Giants also plan to add Yunior Marte back to the bullpen at some point and he can go multiple innings.

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