SAN FRANCISCO — Second baseman Marco Scutaro was designated for assignment Wednesday, clearing a 40-man roster spot for outfielder Nori Aoki.
The Giants intend on retaining Scutaro and working with the former NLCS MVP as he rehabs following back surgery. Scutaro had fusion surgery on his back just before Christmas and was said to need four to six months to rehab before doctors could re-evaluate his ability to play baseball.
The procedure was the latest in a series of health setbacks for the 39-year-old, who grew increasingly gloomy last season when talking about the bulging disk in his back. Scutaro said surgery would be the last resort and was not recommended if the goal was to simply return to the field. He is coming off a season in which he appeared in just five games.
The Giants acquired Scutaro in an under-the-radar deal with the Colorado Rockies before the 2012 trade deadline, and before long teammates started calling him “Blockbuster” because of his impact on the lineup and clubhouse. Scutaro hit .362 in 61 games following the trade and then took home NLCS MVP honors by going 14 for 28 in his first championship series. He won his first title days later, and the Giants gave Scutaro a three-year, $20 million deal that offseason.
Injuries have kept Scutaro from giving the Giants much value for their investment. He suffered from mallet finger after getting hit by a pitch in the middle of the 2013 season and later had a pin inserted in the damaged left pinkie to prevent permanent damage. Scutaro never got going last season, dealing with persistent back and hip discomfort from the start of spring training. He had more injections than at-bats during the spring and played in just five games in July before returning to the disabled list.
Shortly before attempting a comeback last season, Scutaro conceded that his back and hip problems could be due in part to a brutal collision with Matt Holliday in the 2012 NLCS. The Cardinals outfielder came in hard and late with a slide to second base, sending Scutaro”s body in two different directions.
“Who knows? I wish I would know,” Scutaro said last June. “When he hit me, it literally felt that day like he grabbed my leg and pulled it out of my hip like a chicken.”