SAN FRANCISCO - When the Giants left California a week ago, Bruce Bochy was trying to find a solution to a good problem. Alen Hanson was red-hot as a pinch-hitter, and Bochy needed to find ways to take advantage of newfound depth.
As the Giants return to California, that depth is once again being tested.
Evan Longoria will miss significant time after fracturing his fifth metacarpal when hit by a pitch in the fourth inning Thursday. It's the same injury that cost Madison Bumgarner two and a half months, but Longoria told reporters in Miami that he didn't think his fracture was as bad.
"His was a little bit worse than mine, just looking at the x-rays it was a little bit different," Longoria said, according to Kerry Crowley of the San Jose Mercury News. "It wasn't exactly the same."
Regardless, the Giants can expect an extended absence for their starting third baseman, and once again, they have a lineup hole. The best fill-in will actually be a first baseman. Brandon Belt has progressed well in his recovery from an appendectomy and could return this weekend against the Dodgers. If he needs a couple of rehab games, you can expect to then see him Monday at AT&T Park. That would slide one power hitter in for another, with Pablo Sandoval moving over to third to serve as the everyday third baseman.
Hanson made his first career start at third in Washington D.C. over the weekend and made an error, but given his breakthrough at the plate, it's worth giving him a look, too.
Perhaps this is also the time for the Giants to take another look at a player who has stats worthy of a promotion. Austin Slater has an OPS approaching 1.000, and while he isn't a third baseman, he has played second in the past and could serve in a utility role if Hanson sees more time at third.
The immediate move appears to be one to bolster a bullpen that has had to fill way too many innings. Pierce Johnson was added to the taxi squad Thursday night, so he likely will join the club Friday to add a fresh arm.