SAN FRANCISCO — Less than two weeks since Brandon Crawford returned from an injured list stint that was intended to heal a hurt knee and, more broadly, rejuvenate an aging ballplayer, the veteran shortstop is headed back on the shelf.
The knee, which Crawford originally injured on an awkward slide into home plate in June, is still causing him problems, so the Giants on Saturday placed him back on the injured list and scheduled an MRI to hopefully understand the root of the problem.
“It really only felt good the first day back, unfortunately,” said Crawford, who has played in nine games with five hits in 33 at-bats (.152) since returning on July 5.
When Crawford slid into home plate and banged his knee on the shin guard of Atlanta catcher Travis d’Arnaud on June 21, he was originally expected to miss only a few days. But he eventually landed on the IL, where he spent the minimum 10 days. Now, with a determination to alleviate the issue for the rest of the season, Crawford could be out even longer. He’ll be first eligible to return on July 26.
“None of us want to rush this,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “We just really want to get this thing right so he can be the freshest, most athletic version of himself possible. Right now he’s still struggling with this thing not being right. It’s hampered him, so we’re going to take this opportunity to really get this right.”
The original IL stint was only the third of Crawford’s career.
In 2018, he said, he played through what felt like a similar issue but reflecting on the trouble it caused him, he opted to try to find a more permanent solution this time. He used a variety of treatments in 2018, including prednisone injections, “and nothing really worked.”
Crawford took an .825 OPS into the All-Star break that year but posted a .193/.261/.282 batting line in the second half.
So far this year, Crawford said, the only relief has come with rest. The pain returned by the middle of his second game back and hasn’t gone away. Cortisone shots are one option that has been discussed, Crawford said.
“Thinking back on that and just how it’s been feeling and how I’ve been playing, really, it just seemed like a good idea to try to knock this out as soon as possible,” Crawford said.
Thairo Estrada took Crawford’s place at shortstop Saturday, while Evan Longoria was activated on to the active roster. Longoria spent the past 10 days on the injured list nursing a mild oblique strain and went 3-for-6 with a pair of doubles in two rehab games with Triple-A Sacramento.
Since June 25, the left side of the Giants’ starting infield has played together only once.
Junis returns; Llovera likely lost for a while
Longoria wasn’t the only missing Giant to return Saturday.
Jakob Junis, who was originally scheduled to throw one more rehab outing Saturday, was instead activated for Saturday’s game to help reduce the load on a taxed San Francisco bullpen. Junis was available to throw 50-60 pitches in relief of Saturday’s starter Alex Cobb.
Every reliever in the Giants’ pen has pitched at least once in the past three days, and it took another blow Friday when Mauricio Llovera injured his elbow. An MRI revealed a Grade 2 strain in Llovera’s flexor tendon, which could potentially end his season.