LaMonte Wade Jr

Wade injury opens door for Flores, presents Giants with roster dilemma

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SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants, once again this season, have a huge hole to fill at the top of their lineup.

San Francisco pulled out a big 8-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday at Oracle Park, but it came at a cost.

First baseman LaMonte Wade Jr., who leads the Giants in batting average (.333) and all MLB hitters in on-base percentage (.470), left Monday's game in the bottom of the fifth inning with a left hamstring strain after an awkward slide into second base on a double.

Giants manager Bob Melvin told reporters after the game the initial prognosis on Wade's injury "doesn't sound good" and that it almost certainly means he will land on the injured list.

For how long? That remains to be seen, as Wade will undergo an MRI on Tuesday.

"It's not ideal. He's hitting .330 or whatever it is," Melvin said. "Not too many guys in the league can do what he does. He's not just a good left-handed hitter, he's one of the best in the game."

"Yeah definitely it's tough to see, especially with the way his season is going," infielder Wilmer Flores added. "He's just got to try and get back as soon as he can, but it sucks."

Flores will be the everyday first baseman with Wade out. That much the Giants know. However, what they don't know yet is who will replace him as one of the very few left-handed hitters on the roster. Without Wade, outfielder Mike Yastrzemski, infielder Brett Wisely and switch-hitting catcher Patrick Bailey are the only remaining lefties on the 26-man roster.

Left-handed-hitting catcher and outfielder Blake Sabol is an option on the 40-man roster. The Giants also gave him a look at first base in spring training, which could end up paying off right about now. Melvin mentioned first baseman Trenton Brooks as well, who currently is batting .308/.426/.462 with four home runs and 18 RBI for Triple-A Sacramento, although that would require a 40-man-roster move.

The Giants know they're short on left-handed hitters right now, and the solution isn't clear. Veteran outfielder Michael Conforto is nearing a return but could need a rehab game or two this week before he can be activated.

One silver lining is that Flores is an excellent insurance plan at first. Similar to his career-best 2023 season, Flores didn't have an everyday role to begin the campaign, but key injuries -- one of which ironically was to Wade -- forced him into a feature role. He took the opportunity and ran with it, batting .284/.355/.509 with 23 home runs and 60 RBI in 405 at-bats.

Flores, as he proved last season, stays ready for when his number is called and maintains the same approach at the plate regardless of how often he plays.

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

While he doesn't need to produce at the level he did last year due to the lineup being much stronger this season, the Giants certainly would welcome Flores embracing his everyday role and becoming one of the most consistent hitters in the lineup.

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