Giants notes: How team plans to fill void after Wade's injury

Giants notes: How team plans to fill void after Wade's injury originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO -- When the news came down that the Giants would be without LaMonte Wade Jr. for at least a month, there were a lot of different ways to speculate about what comes next.

Could a reunion with Brandon Belt actually be an option? Could a trade be the best path? Could a young prospect like Brett Wisely or Marco Luciano occasionally slide over there to keep a hot bat in the lineup?

A few of those were brought to Bob Melvin before Tuesday's game, but for the manager, this is actually all pretty simple.

"It would be easy just to put Flo in there, right?" he said.

Wilmer Flores was the Giants' best hitter last season, and even though he's off to a slow start, he will be counted on to replace the player who has been their best hitter this season. The Giants started Trenton Brooks on Tuesday to get another left-handed bat against Zack Wheeler, but Melvin said Flores will be his primary first baseman moving forward.

Flores has a .566 OPS and just one homer, but the staff has not lost faith that he can be a contributor. A year ago, he hit 23 homers and posted a wRC+ of 136, which pretty easily led the team, with Wade ranking second.

This season, Wade is at 169, and by just about any standard he has been one of the most effective players in the game. Among hitters with at least 150 plate appearances, Wade has the highest on-base percentage (.470) and third-highest batting average (.336). The only left-handed hitters with a higher wRC+ are Shohei Ohtani, Kyle Tucker and Juan Soto.

Wade first felt hamstring tightness on the road trip and he came out of Monday's game after an awkward slide into second base. An MRI confirmed a Grade 2 left hamstring strain that will cost Wade at least four weeks. He will miss the game at Rickwood Field, which he was looking forward to playing in, and likely lost any shot at making his first All-Star Game.

"It's big. It is," Melvin said. "He's as good a left-handed hitter as there is in the league right now. And not only that, but there's the flare for the dramatic and coming up in big spots and getting big hits, as we've seen for a while now. That's going to be tough to replace, but over the course of the season you have to, and we've had to replace a lot of guys here recently. That's probably as tough a one as we've had."

The Giants have dealt with one injury after another in May, but they at least feel pretty prepared to fill the void right now. A year ago at this time, Gabe Kapler was having trouble finding enough at-bats for Flores. By the end of the year, he was an everyday player and the team's best hitter. The staff knows Flores is as equipped as anyone to step in.

"Your routine changes a little bit, but the mentality is the same, " Flores said Monday. "You try and have good at-bats and hit the ball hard. Nothing really changes."

Trainer's Room

Michael Conforto (hamstring) ran the infield curve on Tuesday afternoon but Melvin said a rehab assignment is still days away. The Giants were already being careful with Conforto, and the Wade injury is a reminder of just how tricky hamstrings can be.

Keaton Winn (forearm strain) threw a 45-pitch bullpen session and is doing well. He'll be eligible to come off the IL before the open rotation spot -- filled very successfully by a bullpen game on Tuesday -- comes back up on the schedule.

Austin Slater (concussion) started a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento on Tuesday and was 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout. Slater will play with the River Cats on Wednesday, too. The Giants certainly can't send Heliot Ramos back down right now, but there are other ways to get Slater on the roster when he's ready. Melvin said it's possible it's a longer rehab assignment since Slater wasn't getting many at-bats before getting hurt.

"We want him to feel good before he comes back and get some hits and feel really good," Melvin said. "It was kind of an uneven spring and start to the season for him."

Going Streaking

In Tuesday's 1-0 win, Ramos extended his on-base streak to 17 games and Matt Chapman pushed his streak to 16 games. Ramos has a .361 on-base percentage during his streak and Chapman is at .431.

Chapman isn't going anywhere in the next few years unless he decides to, but for Ramos, this has been career-altering. He has reached base in 18 of 19 games since being recalled.

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