Austin Slater

Slater reprising Giants' lefty killer role after lengthy concussion

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SAN FRANCISCO -- If there's one thing Austin Slater has done really well, it's crush left-handed pitching.

The longest-tenured Giant never has been an everyday player, but his success against southpaws has earned him a reputation throughout the league, even among all-time greats like Clayton Kershaw.

However, Slater's 2024 MLB season got off to a terrible start. He hit .103 in April before landing on the concussion injured list in early May. He was sidelined for three-plus weeks with lingering symptoms before finally being activated on June 3.

"I had just a constant headache, fogginess," Slater shared postgame. "I'd get dizzy, too, with cardio activity. It's definitely one of the longer rehabs I've had from a concussion. It's not my first one, but this was definitely the worst in terms of symptoms after. I was just trying to get back to a baseline where I felt OK to do daily things."

After delivering the walk-off hit in the 10th inning of Monday's win over the Houston Astros, Slater hit leadoff on Wednesday against Houston Astros lefty Framber Valdez and collected three hits in the Giants' 5-3 win at Oracle Park.

Slater now has six hits in 11 at-bats over four games since being activated. After sticking with him early in the season, Giants manager Bob Melvin continues to reap the rewards of his faith in the 31-year-old. 

"What is he, over .350 on-base percentage now? That's kind of what he does, top of the order against lefties," Melvin said postgame. "Just him settling in, getting some consistent at-bats and doing his thing at the top of the order."

Slater said after Monday's game that the consistent at-bats he received while rehabbing in Triple-A Sacramento helped him get into a rhythm at the plate. Now reprising his role as a primarily matchup-based player, Slater is confident he doesn't need to play every day to continue his success at the plate.

"It's something I've learned to do throughout the years, stick with my routine daily, try to do as much [velocity] machine as I can," Slater explained. "And a lot of it just comes down to confidence that I don't need the everyday at-bats to be successful.

"I think that goes a long way. A lot of guys fall into the trap of, 'Oh man, I need to get into a rhythm at the plate,' instead of focusing on what your approach is vs. that pitcher and whatever the situation is."

Slater historically has made the most of his infrequent opportunities, and if he continues to do so, the Giants' lineup will benefit greatly.

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