What are SF Giants center field options after Jung Hoo Lee’s injury?

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants will know more about the outlook for Jung Hoo Lee when their rookie center fielder meets with Dr. Ken Akizuki, the team’s head orthopedist, later Monday evening to review an MRI on his injured left shoulder.

For now, they know he dislocated his shoulder crashing into the outfield wall in the first inning of Sunday’s walk-off win over the Reds and that, whether or not it needs to be surgically repaired, the injury typically comes with a lengthy recovery.

Manager Bob Melvin said before first pitch Monday against the Dodgers that “I would think no at this point, based on what I’m hearing,” regarding the possibility of surgery, which could be the difference between a six-to-eight week absence and potentially missing the remainder of his first major-league season.

“It takes a little while to process this,” the Giants manager said of his 25-year-old center fielder after talking with his interpreter, Justin Han, in the aftermath of the injury. “He’s very team-oriented and wants to be out there for his team and therefore is disappointed, but there’s not much you can do about it.

“You make an all-out effort like that to catch a ball in the first inning, make that play and it’s a huge momentum swing. All of a sudden our center fielder’s down. We had to recover from that a little bit. I’m sure he’s feeling it right now. He wants to be out there for his team.”

In the meantime, the Giants have a variety of options who can play center field but perhaps no one player who can match Lee’s unique skillset.

As their primary leadoff hitter, Lee has elite at putting the ball in play, one of three qualified batters who are striking out in fewer than 10% of their plate appearances (his company: Luis Arraez and Steven Kwan). On the bases, his speed hasn’t translated to as many steals as the Giants would like (caught three times on five attempts) but still provides the threat to run unlike anyone besides Thairo Estrada.

The vast outfield grass of Oracle Park’s center field, with alleyways on both sides, may be where Lee’s absence is felt the most. His sprint speed of 28.4 feet per second ranks in the top 17% of major leaguers, behind only Tyler Fitzgerald (29.8) and Matt Chapman (28.5) on the Giants, and helped him cover all that ground.

“Now I know why they call him ‘Grandson of the Wind,’” Jordan Hicks remarked after Lee chased down — and backhanded — a surefire extra-base hit in his last start at Citizens Bank Park. Earlier in the road trip, he showed the ability to charge shallow pop flies, too, laying out for a diving catch at Fenway Park and slamming his glove into the grass, gratified at making up for a misplay earlier in the inning.

That speed — and effort — was exemplified all the way until Lee collided with the outfield wall Sunday afternoon.

“Everybody felt it early in the game,” Melvin said. “We come back in …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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