The Giants are welcoming back a pair of outfield reinforcements. San Francisco reinstated both Mitch Haniger and Austin Slater from the 10-day injured list prior to tonight’s matchup with the Cardinals. To clear spots on the active roster, the Giants optioned infielder/outfielder Brett Wisely to Triple-A Sacramento and placed first baseman/corner outfielder Darin Ruf on the 10-day IL with inflammation in his right wrist.
Haniger’s return is the biggest development. He’s now in position to make his club debut. Signed to a three-year, $43.5MM guarantee over the offseason, the longtime Mariner went down with a Grade 1 oblique strain in Spring Training. That cost him the first three weeks of the regular season but didn’t prove a serious long-term concern. He’s in left field tonight and hitting third against St. Louis southpaw Jordan Montgomery.
The 32-year-old outfielder appeared in four rehab games for Sacramento. He picked up four hits in 13 at-bats, clearing the fences twice. Haniger is coming off a .246/.308/.429 showing over 57 games during his final season in Seattle.
Slater also opened the year on the IL, in his case due to a hamstring strain. The role-playing outfielder had a quality .264/.366/.408 line over 325 plate appearances last season. He spent the bulk of his defensive time in center field, garnering mixed reviews for his glovework. He eases into action as the designated hitter in his first MLB game of the year after picking up six hits in 18 at-bats on a rehab stint for Sacramento. Slater will lead off tonight.
The pair of right-handed hitters add some balance to a lineup that is off to a dreadful start against left-handed pitching. Only the Tigers (.264) have a lower on-base percentage against southpaws than San Francisco’s .271 mark, while their .337 slugging ranks 27th in the majors. Those struggles were part of the reason the Giants reunited with Ruf, who has a .261/.370/.348 line in nine games this season.