September 27, 2022

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Pederson set for MRI after groin injury

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Junis tosses 5 strong innings in Bay Bridge finale

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants absorbed a double blow on Wednesday night at Oracle Park.

Not only did they watch their five-game winning streak come to an end with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of the A’s, but they also lost their hottest hitter after outfielder Joc Pederson exited early with right groin tightness.

Pederson, who leads the Giants with six home runs over 16 games, appeared to grab his right leg while running to second base on Brandon Belt’s double-play grounder to end the bottom of the third inning. Pederson was spotted moving gingerly in the Giants’ dugout and walked back to the home clubhouse alongside team trainer L.J. Petra.

“I was trying to get in the way of the throw and took a bad step,” Pederson said. “I kind of just took a weird step at a weird angle and it tightened up.”

Pederson will undergo an MRI exam on Thursday’s off-day and is hopeful he won’t have to miss much time, though manager Gabe Kapler said “there’s a chance” the Palo Alto, Calif., native could land on the injured list.

“It’s definitely already feeling better,” Pederson said. “I’m walking around a lot easier. Hopefully it just grabbed a little bit and it’s not as bad as a pull. I’ll come in tomorrow on the off-day to get some treatment and do everything I can to get back on the field as soon as possible.”

Austin Slater entered the game to play center field in the top of the fourth, with Luis González shifting to right field to replace Pederson, who has slashed .353/.382/.745 since joining his hometown team on a one-year, $6 million deal in March.

The Giants’ outfield depth has thinned considerably in recent weeks, as a trio of left-handed-hitting outfielders — LaMonte Wade Jr. (left knee inflammation), Steven Duggar (left oblique strain) and Mike Yastrzemski (COVID-19) — are already on the IL.

Duggar’s injury was severe enough to warrant a spot on the 60-day IL, but the Giants have gotten better news on Wade and Yastrzemski, who are both inching closer to rejoining the club.

Wade started at designated hitter and went 1-for-4 in his third rehab game for Triple-A Sacramento on Wednesday night. The 28-year-old appeared to be on track to make his season debut next week, though Kapler noted before the game that “sometimes necessity changes timelines.”

Could Pederson’s injury change the outlook for Wade?

“Not if it puts LaMonte at risk,” Kapler said. “We want him to be built up and healthy and strong. We want to be always taking the long view with these things. Obviously, if Joc needs a few days, it would be nice to have LaMonte back sooner rather than later. But we’re not going to rush him.”

Yastrzemski, who tested positive on Sunday and stayed behind in Washington, D.C., to quarantine, is showing improvement and could begin PCR testing on Friday, per Kapler. There is no minimum or maximum stay on the COVID-19 IL; to be eligible for reinstatement, a player must have no symptoms and return consecutive negative tests more than 24 hours apart.

Outfield prospect Heliot Ramos could be another candidate to fill in for Pederson, who had crushed three homers since replacing Yastrzemski at the leadoff spot over the weekend. Pederson reached base in each of his two plate appearances on Tuesday, but the rest of the Giants’ bats couldn’t get much going against A’s right-hander Paul Blackburn, who scattered three hits over five scoreless innings.

Oakland outfielder Chad Pinder, who was activated off the COVID-19 IL before Wednesday’s game, accounted for the lone run of the Bay Bridge Series finale, delivering a leadoff home run against opener Sam Long in the first inning. Still, the Giants managed to keep it close thanks to another impressive outing from Jakob Junis, who replaced Long in the second and struck out six over five shutout innings in his second appearance as the “bulk innings” guy.

Junis, who is helping to fill the gaps in the rotation left by the injuries to Alex Cobb (right adductor strain) and Anthony DeSclafani (right ankle inflammation), has struck out 10 over 10 scoreless innings since being recalled from Triple-A Sacramento, making him a candidate to stick on the pitching staff after rosters are reduced from 28 to 26 players early next week. 

“He’s been huge for us,” Kapler said. “He’s covered big portions of two games, and he’s done it with all zeros and a really unique slider. He can throw it in the zone for a strike and for swing-and-miss out of the zone. His changeup is a really effective pitch as well, and he’s mixing in his fastball nicely.”

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