PHOENIX–If Austin Slater sat out Friday’s series-opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Giants likely would have lost an old-fashioned pitchers’ duel.
Instead, Slater recorded three hits against three different left-handed pitchers and drove in both of the team’s runs in a 2-1 win.
They’ll take their chances without Slater in the lineup Saturday.
Manager Bruce Bochy said he chose to start Alen Hanson in left field instead of Friday’s hero because Hanson has a club-leading 1.069 OPS against right-handed starters.
“It’s always a tough call when a guy gets three hits, but the last time we faced a right-hander, Hanson was the guy that had the big day with two doubles,” Bochy said. “Knocked in the go-ahead run, he’s leading our hitters in OPS in a pretty good number of at-bats so it’s hard not to have him.”
Hanson went 2-for-5 with two doubles in the Giants’ 9-8 loss to the Rockies Saturday, picking up both of his hits against right-handed pitchers.
With Shelby Miller on the hill for Arizona Saturday, Bochy stacked the Giants lineup with lefties, leaving four righties including Slater on the bench.
Bochy said Slater will probably start Sunday, but the Giants’ reluctance to reward the rookie with consecutive starts is surprising considering how well Slater performed at Triple-A this season. A utility player who can handle multiple defensive assignments including all three outfield positions, Slater’s versatility figures to improve his chances of earning playing time, but it’s difficult for young players to produce up to their capabilities without regular starting opportunities.
The Giants offered Mac Williamson a chance to seize the starting left field job earlier this month, but Bochy has yet to list Slater in the starting lineup on consecutive days this season.
What’s next for Johnny Cueto
After throwing four scoreless innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Sacramento Friday, the next stop for right-hander Johnny Cueto (elbow sprain) remains undetermined.
Cueto could rejoin the Giants rotation next week or make an additional rehab appearance to build up his stamina, but Bochy said the club will wait to see how the next few days go before finalizing a decision.
Instead of traveling to join the team, Cueto hung back in Sacramento and will throw a bullpen Monday. Cueto won’t throw in Colorado against the Rockies, but if the Giants do elect to activate him, he’ll start against the Cardinals in the club’s next homestand.