MLB: Frustration mounts for Giants’ Fred Lewis
By Daniel Brown
San Jose Mercury News
On opening day a year ago, the hopes were so high for Fred Lewis that he started in left field and hit third in the batting order.
These days, it's nothing but frustration.
Lewis will probably start the season on the disabled list — that is, if the Giants decide to keep him around at all. Hindered by a rib injury, Lewis was unable to do much more than running work Thursday night when the Giants returned to AT&T after six weeks in Arizona.
"Running doesn't bother me at all," Lewis said.
Swinging the bat is a different story. Lewis said he planned on taking a few swings off a batting tee Thursday night but acknowledged he'll need more than that to get ready for opening day Monday in Houston.
"We're not sure if he's going to be ready. I've talked to Freddy about that," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Could he start the season on the DL? Sure. We're not going to push him. We'll have a better idea in a few days."
Even when Lewis regains his health, his future is murky. He is out of minor league options, so he remains a candidate to be traded or released.
Such a move would complete a long fall for the outfielder whose hold on the starting left-field job lasted until last June 11. He started only four of the Giants' final 45 games and hit .091 (2 for 22) after Aug. 30.
Things weren't better in Cactus League play this year. Lewis hit .222 (8 for 36), although three of the hits were home runs.
He tested his sore ribs in a minor league game March 28, but it did not go well. Lewis went 0 for 6, struck out in his last three at-bats and told general manager Brian Sabean he had trouble seeing the ball.
On Thursday, Lewis clarified that his vision was fine, but pain became a distraction after a check swing aggravated the injury.
"I was afraid to take a full hack," he said.
Lewis hopes to gets back in the swing of things soon.
"I need more at-bats right now," he said. "Because sitting around not doing anything is not going to flip the switch."
—The Giants' lineup Thursday night against the A's looked suspiciously like the one that they will use Monday against the Astros. Bochy acknowledged as much but also indicated that no final decision has been made about a starting right fielder.
Nate Schierholtz started in right field Thursday, but John Bowker will get at least one start over the next few days with a chance to make an impression.
—Bochy said second baseman Freddy Sanchez is still three or four weeks from starting a minor league rehabilitation assignment.
—Shortstop prospect Brandon Crawford, who grew up in a Giants-crazy household in Pleasanton, was thrilled just for a chance to take batting practice at AT&T Park. His only other time on this diamond was during a pre-draft workout when he was still at Foothill High.
—In a swap of minor league left-handers, the Giants traded Ben Snyder to the Texas Rangers for Edwin Escobar.