Struggling Giants might lose Patrick Bailey to the concussion list (2024)

PHILADELPHIA — There was something off about the way Patrick Bailey swiped his mitt at a slider in the second inning Friday night.

Jordan Hicks has worked with Bailey long enough to appreciate his skill at framing pitches and coaxing strike calls out of umpires. On occasion, Bailey will drop a ball while attempting to drag it back in the zone. But this one was odd. It was like Bailey didn’t see the pitch.


That’s because he didn’t. Two pitches later, the San Francisco Giants catcher motioned to trainers in the visiting dugout. After a brief discussion, Bailey was removed from the game with what the team reported as blurred vision. Bailey was feeling better after the game, according to Giants manager Bob Melvin, and was not officially in concussion protocols. But the Giants play another game Saturday at what would be 3:05 p.m. on the West Coast. They’re almost certain to hustle Triple-A Sacramento catcher Blake Sabol across the country. With any luck, the Giants might only have to add Sabol to the taxi squad.

But right now, it’s hard for the Giants to consider themselves especially fortunate. Their struggling offense maxed out its apparent quota for runs, and it wasn’t enough in a 4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

The Giants say Patrick Bailey was removed from the game because of blurred vision and is being evaluated. He took a pretty hard foul tip off the mask in the first inning:

— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) May 4, 2024

The Giants haven’t scored more than three runs in eight consecutive games. This time, they practically contorted their way out of potential big innings. They demonstrated patience while drawing four walks against Aaron Nola to drive him from the game after four innings because of a high pitch count. They got one damaging hit with runners on base when Thairo Estrada hit a two-run double to the right-field wall in the second inning. They made their share of hard outs, including a deep drive from Michael Conforto that might have carried out for a two-run homer in the daytime. They even got some help from the Phillies’ middle infielders, who made a couple of strange decisions while throwing to bases.

But the Giants remained stuck on three. And nobody in the lineup has been in a bigger rut than whoever is batting third.


The Giants entered the game with a .756 OPS from the No. 3 spot, which ranked 12th out of 30 major-league teams. In RBI situations, though, the lack of production borders on bizarre. The Giants’ third-place hitters have been almost totally shut out this season. The team has received just seven RBIs from the three spot, which ranks dead last among major-league clubs by a wide margin. Four of those seven RBIs were solo home runs from designated hitter Jorge Soler, whose inexplicable lack of hitting with runners on base continues to be one of the team’s most glaring issues. He couldn’t be more averse to rib-eyes if he were vegan.

Soler came to the plate with the bases loaded twice Friday night. He managed to plate one run. Almost cruelly, he was not credited with an RBI, because he grounded into a double play. There was no need to break a bat over his knee like he did Wednesday in Boston. This time, the bat splintered in his hands as he made contact.

The up-to-date Soler tally: He has batted with 94 runners on base this season and has driven in four of them. (That’s if you count Nick Ahmed’s score on the double play.)

It’s not just Soler, though. He has started just 16 of the Giants’ 33 games in the No. 3 spot. LaMonte Wade Jr. has started there seven times, Jung Hoo Lee has batted third in four games against left-handed pitchers, and Melvin has tried Conforto and Matt Chapman in that spot twice apiece. Wade and Conforto have driven in one run each from the No. 3 spot. Soler has the other five RBIs. And that’s it for the season.

The Giants got the tying run into scoring position in the ninth when Estrada hit a leadoff single and advanced on a groundout to short. For some reason, Phillies shortstop Trea Turner didn’t go for the short force. It was a weird decision that would have been scrutinized after the game if the Giants had tied the score. But pinch hitter Wilmer Flores struck out to end it.


“I thought our at-bats were really good all the way up to the end,” Melvin said. “We’re just that one hit away — more today than any other game we played. We’re just one big at-bat from breaking through and winning that game.”

Melvin keeps returning to the same reassurances when asked about the sluggish offense. It’s early. These guys have track records. It’s a matter of time. Stay the course.

All of that is true. But if there’s a reason to be concerned, it’s this: The Giants aren’t producing enough runs at a time when their position player core is fully assembled. They’ve kept everyone healthy up to this point. This is a time when they should be jelling as a group. It’ll only get harder when they have to start plugging holes and deviating from their script and choosing suboptimal matchups — something every team has to do at some point in a season because no team remains injury-free over 162 games.

And now the Giants are dealing with an injury to their poised, switch-hitting catcher.

“Obviously, we’re going to be proactive,” Melvin said. “Hopefully it’s not a loss. But yes, he is central to everything we do.”

Hicks, who played with Gold Glove catcher Yadier Molina in St. Louis, said he jokingly calls Bailey “Yadi Jr.” because of the similarities he finds between his two batterymates.

“It’s just the way he calls the game,” said Hicks, who had to work around his own four walks plus two errors by Chapman but kept the score competitive after four innings. “If I shake (Bailey) and he’s really on that pitch, he’d be like, ‘No, we’re gonna hit that (PitchCom) button again.’ There were times I shook no to the splitter and wanted something else and I’d hear splitter again. That’s something Yadi used to do.

“And everyone knows how many pitches he gets for us in and out of the zone. He’s just a great young talent, in my eyes.”


Hicks is starting to feel the same way about Jung Hoo Lee after the 25-year-old center fielder sprinted to the deepest part of center field and somehow made a backhanded catch to take an extra-base hit away from Johan Rojas. After the fourth inning, Hicks tracked down Korean interpreter Justin Han in the dugout so he could tell Lee, whose sobriquet in Korea is “Grandson of the Wind,” how impressed he was with the catch.

“It looked like he was flying with the wind,” Hicks said. “So I understand the nickname now.”

Whether it’s Lee or Ahmed at short or Chapman every night other than Saturday’s aberration, the Giants are getting the defensive support they envisioned for their talented pitching staff. But losing Bailey, a Gold Glove finalist as a rookie last year, would be a significant setback. Just losing him for seven innings resulted in a negative fallout when backup Tom Murphy allowed a passed ball and then made an imperfect throw to Hicks covering the plate as Turner scored from second base. It was the last run the Phillies would score, and it proved to be the difference-maker.

When you’re playing the Giants, that fourth run usually is.

(Photo of Patrick Bailey talking with a trainer as he leaves the game: Chris Szagola / Associated Press)

Struggling Giants might lose Patrick Bailey to the concussion list (2024)


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