SAN DIEGO -- Bruce Bochy made it official Thursday: It's unlikely that four key Giants will return this season.
Brandon Belt, Nori Aoki and Gregor Blanco are all concussed and Bochy doesn't expect any of them to return over the final 11 games. Hunter Pence still is not cleared to take real swings as he rehabs an oblique tear, and Bochy said he doesn't expect to see his right fielder again in 2015. The manager said he "would be shocked" if any of the four return, with the only possibility being that the team somehow has a miracle finish here and makes the postseason.
So ... yeah, you won't see those four again.
Belt played the most out of that group and will finish with 137 games played and a career-high 19 homers. He drove in 68 runs and hit .280. Blanco has suffered two concussions this season and will finish with a .781 OPS in what was a very nice season for the veteran. He's signed for next year, but Aoki is a bit in limbo right now. The Giants hold an option on the left fielder, who was an All-Star candidate in the first half but suffered a foot fracture and the concussion. Aoki had a .353 on-base percentage in 93 games.
Losing Pence for most of this season was the biggest blow. He started the year on the DL with a forearm fracture and missed 66 games during two separate stints on the DL. The strained left oblique will cost Pence the final 44 games of the season. In the 52 games he played this year, the Giants went 34-18. Bochy noted that the Giants missed Pence's bat and defense, but also his energy. In his 52 games, Pence drove in 40 runs and hit .275 with nine homers.
"We're just not making very much progress with him," Bochy said. "I know he's frustrated, but he's not swinging the bat yet."
With Pence out and the Giants inching closer to elimination, Bochy is going to try and find a way to get Mac Williamson a start. He felt a little bad about throwing the rookie up against Craig Kimbrel in his MLB debut. Jarrett Parker could also see more time; he has two pinch-hit homers since coming back and narrowly missed two more.
"I love what he's doing off the bench," Bochy said. "The kid has got a little different look about him. He's got his confidence, a sense of belonging. He's eager to get in there and swing the bat his second time here -- I don't think you can say his third time."
Parker famously spent a day up in the big leagues last summer without getting into a game. When he was recalled earlier this year, he looked tentative and overwhelmed, and Bochy said later that he wasn't big league ready. When Parker came back this month, he said he was kind of taking a "let it all hang out" attitude. He was disappointed with himself during that first stint this year and thought he was too passive. That message was passed down by the coaching staff, too.
"We want to encourage our young players when they come up to not be afraid to make mistakes," Bochy said. "Don't be afraid to fail."
Parker is showing no hesitation lately, and he's certainly improved his standing with coaches.
--- Aubrey Huff is here with his kids. He must have heard that the Giants have used six different guys at first in 10 games at Petco this year. Here's the list: Arias, Posey, Duffy, Belt, Belt, Belt, Belt, Adrianza, Posey, Frandsen.
Frandsen said he was mostly hanging out with his wife and three-month-old daughter the last three weeks and occasionally playing golf. He watched a ton of Giants games, in part to keep tabs on former River Cats teammates. Frandsen did plan to be in Oakland on Saturday for the Zito-Hudson game, but not as a player. He bought tickets because he's close with Zito and wanted to see the matchup. The two have been texting all season, and Frandsen, who lives in San Jose, certainly has a feeling for what this matchup means. He said he remembers going to watch the Big Three on dollar hot dog night at the Coliseum (a young Alex Pavlovic also crushed those hot dogs).
"Those two guys mean a lot to the Bay Area," he said. "I'm excited that I'll have better seats."
Hell, Frandsen may start against Zito.
"He texted me yesterday, like, wouldn't that be crazy if we faced each other?" Frandsen said. "Both of us were like, 'This is hilarious.'"
Frandsen said he wasn't disappointed when the Giants didn't call him up.
"I don't know if you can say disappointed because I've been released twice in a year," he pointed out. "The expectations, there were none. Was I disappointed? Not really."
Now he's here, wearing No. 43 and starting at first base. Is he ready?
"Uh," he said, smiling. "Sure ... It's like being on the DL for a little bit and then coming off today. This is my first rehab game."
It will be Frandsen's first Giants game since 2009, and he made an interesting point when talking about his time in Triple-A this season. He said the attitude of the organization has changed since he first came up through the minors.
"The desire and fight is a lot different than when I was first (in the minors with the Giants)," he said. "Now, even in the minor leagues, it's impressive. Those guys are busting their butts."
--- Bochy called a young 11-year-old fan up to sit next to him during his pre-game media session. She was all smiles. She hadn't seen tonight's lineup, so when Bochy asked who she wanted to see start, she said she loves Madison Bumgarner. Well, today's her lucky day: Bumgarner goes for his 19th win.