PHOENIX -– The Giants played short for nearly two weeks while hoping Angel Pagan’s ailing hamstring would come around.
It didn’t, and after an MRI exam showed lingering inflammation in his hamstring tendon, the club made the obvious decision to place their leadoff man and center fielder on the disabled list Friday.
San Francisco called up versatile outfielder Juan Perez from Triple-A Fresno; the 26-year-old is a speedy athlete who runs well, plays plus defense at all three outfield spots and also has been used at second base and third base for the Grizzlies.
Pagan will require at least five more days of rest and treatment, Bochy said. He’s eligible to return Wednesday, when the Giants play the second game of their series at Pittsburgh.
“He’s just not coming around like we had hoped or he had hoped,” Bochy said. “You’re always going to miss your leadoff hitter. I think we miss his presence.”
Without Pagan, Bochy hasn’t been able to platoon Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres in left field. The manager said he would look to mix in a few starts for Perez, a right-handed hitter, especially when the Giants face a lefty pitcher. They’ll get one Sunday when Tyler Skaggs starts for Arizona.
Perez is en route from Salt Lake City and expected to arrive in time for the first pitch. He became instantly classier when the Giants issued him No. 2, which once belonged to Randy Winn.
Third base is Perez’s most comfortable position on the infield and Bochy said he wouldn’t hesitate to play him there. If Perez can establish himself, it's possible the Giants could end up sending out backup infielder Nick Noonan when Pagan is ready to return.
Perez has a very interesting background.
Just a few years ago, his only tool was a plumber’s wrench and his baseball dreams seemed very far-fetched. The 26-year-old Dominican native moved to the U.S. in 2001 and stood out at DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, but wasn’t drafted.
So he apprenticed for his father’s plumbing company, and when he didn’t have his head under kitchen sinks, he played ball in La Caribe, the Bronx’s well-known amateur men’s league featuring plenty of ex-pros still pitching and hitting for the love of the game.
Perez eventually found his way to Western Oklahoma Junior College, where one of his teammates was Danny Almonte, the infamously over-age Little League World Series hero. But Perez soon made a name for his own. He hit .465 with 37 home runs to set the national junior college record.
The Giants took him in the 13th round of the 2008 draft. Despite a slow pro debut season at Low-A Augusta in which he hit .244, Perez fashioned himself into a player to watch while leading Single-A San Jose to its second consecutive California League championship the following year.
Perez had a terrific season at Double-A Richmond last year and was hitting .296/.331/.507 for Fresno in 57 games. He had 12 steals in 14 attempts, too. More than one scout told me he's a better defensive outfielder than Gary Brown, which is high praise indeed.