Austin Slater return brings Giants closer to ideal roster structure

Giants roster rounding into shape with Slater's return originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants' roster, slowly but surely, is starting to round into shape.

Outfielder Austin Slater was activated off the injured list Monday ahead of San Francisco's series opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Oracle Park.

Slater, who began the season on the injured list after dealing with elbow and hamstring injuries in spring training, returned to the lineup for eight games before re-aggravating his hamstring on May 10 against the Washington Nationals. After working hard to get back to the field the first time, Slater hopes his latest rehab assignment is his last of the season.

"Yeah, it's definitely frustrating," Slater told NBC Sports Bay Area before Monday's game. "Especially since you take so much time and effort putting it into rehab and to get your body right and then to do something very similar to what you just came back from is incredibly frustrating.

"It's kind of funny, (physical therapy) kind of gives you a workout, you're like 'yeah, I've already done this workout.' It's definitely frustrating, rehab's always a mental grind and doing it twice ... the goal is to make this the last one of the year and stay healthy and take care of the body."

Slater's return, plus the recent offensive surge from veteran outfielder Mitch Haniger provides the Giants with two key right-handed options for the lineup.

With Slater back in the fold and hitting leadoff on Monday afternoon, Giants manager Gabe Kapler was able to deploy a nearly all-right-handed-hitting lineup -- outside of shortstop Brandon Crawford -- against Pirates lefty Rich Hill. That not only is important strategically but allows for a few left-handed hitters to have a day off.

"The combination of Slater and [Mitch Haniger] kind of gives you that look one through five that feels you can be as good as any one-through-five against a left-handed pitcher in the league," Kapler said pregame.

"And then you see what it does to the depth, you have one left-handed hitter in the lineup in [Brandon Crawford] today and have a chance to give all of your other left-handed bats a day off. LaMonte Wade Jr. and [Mike Yastrzemski] and [Michael] Conforto, these are guys that need to rest once in a while and today's a good day for that."

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The Giants have won 10 of their last 13 games and are surging at the right time after a forgettable month of April.

After Slater's return, the team hopes to get designated hitter Joc Pederson back soon. Soon after that, star second baseman Thairo Estrada, who was placed on the 10-day IL Saturday with a left wrist sprain, could be nearing a return.

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