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Pablo Sandoval's injury puts Giants in bind
Posted 5/4/2012 8:00 AM ET
SAN FRANCISCO — Bruce Bochy can look around and find plenty of colleagues who will commiserate with him, but he'll get few answers to his latest problem.

For the second year in a row, the San Francisco Giants manager will have to make do without his third baseman and most productive hitter for an extended stretch, as Pablo Sandoval will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a broken left hamate bone. He will have surgery today.

It's the same injury that knocked Sandoval out for 40 games last season, from April 30-June 12, except at that time it was to his right hand.

MORE: Sandoval the latest in string of injured 3Bs

Sandoval, the Giants' No. 3 hitter who began this season with a 20-game hitting streak, is batting .316 and leading the team with five home runs, 15 RBI and 16 runs scored.

"You just don't replace a bat like Pablo. This guy was on the All-Star team last year," Bochy said upon announcing the news Thursday. "There are very few guys in Major League Baseball who can do some things he can do with the bat."

And, as other managers can attest, there aren't many available third basemen ready to step in for a starter and replace his production.

The Giants called up Conor Gillaspie, 24, who was batting .362 with 13 RBI at Class AAA Fresno but came in with 24 career major league at-bats. Gillaspie, who will get the bulk of the playing time at third, went 1-for-3 in a 3-2 loss as the Miami Marlins swept the three-game series.

Two of the other three clubs that are missing All-Star-caliber third basemen also had to dip into the minors for substitutes.

The Tampa Bay Rays, who have lost Evan Longoria for six to eight weeks with a partially torn left hamstring, promoted Will Rhymes from Class AAA Durham (N.C.).

The Boston Red Sox are getting their first extended look at top prospect Will Middlebrooks, called up when Kevin Youkilis went on the disabled list Wednesday with a back strain.

Middlebrooks, 23, had a 1.057 on-base-plus-slugging percentage with Class AAA Pawtucket (R.I.) and nine homers in 24 games.

The Washington Nationals already had rookie Steve Lombardozzi on board to take over at third base when Ryan Zimmerman went on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, so they promoted exciting outfield prospect Bryce Harper, hoping he'd jump-start their moribund offense.

The Giants (12-13) could use a similar boost after totaling five runs in dropping all three games to the Marlins by one run.

San Francisco is averaging 3.84 runs a game and batting .197 with runners in scoring position.

One of the candidates to replace Sandoval's missing offense is second-year first baseman Brandon Belt, who has been getting more consistent at-bats with Aubrey Huff sidelined by an anxiety disorder.

"We need (Sandoval) in the lineup, but at the same time it could be kind of an awakening, a chance for other people to step up," Belt said. "Hopefully this will be a jump-start."

Posted 5/4/2012 8:00 AM ET
Conor Gillaspie,making a stop Thursday, has little big-league experience, but Pablo Sandoval's injury has the Giants banking on him.
By Marcio Jose Sanchez,, AP
Conor Gillaspie,making a stop Thursday, has little big-league experience, but Pablo Sandoval's injury has the Giants banking on him.

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