Pablo Sandoval’s elbow injury a crushing blow to Giants team that needs his energy

SF Giants placed Pablo Sandoval on 10-day injured list Wednesday

San Francisco Giants’ Pablo Sandoval (48) reacts to a strike three call while at bat against the New York Mets in the first inning of their MLB game at Oracle Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Friday, July 19, 2019. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)
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SAN FRANCISCO — Pablo Sandoval’s right elbow is in terrible shape.

Sandoval received a cortisone shot in his elbow and a MRI on Sunday, but the injection did little to mask the persistent pain and inflammation the switch-hitting infielder is forced to deal with.

The Giants were optimistic Sandoval might still be able to contribute as a pinch-hitter this week, but the injury was too much to overcome and the club decided to place him on the 10-day injured list on Wednesday.

“It’s very damaged, it’s beat up,” Sandoval said.

With an open roster spot, the Giants activated outfielder Alex Dickerson from the 10-day injured list following a brief, one-game rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento. Manager Bruce Bochy said Dickerson has healed from a right oblique strain and will be available to pinch hit in each of the Giants’ next two games, but he may not make his first start in the outfield until Friday.

Sandoval has had bone chips in his right elbow since 2013, but has found ways to manage the injury over the past six years. Pain in the elbow became progressively worse following a pinch-hit appearance in Friday’s 9-6 loss to the Phillies and reached a point where the Giants decided he ultimately needed rest.

“It’s frustrating,” Sandoval said. “But at the same time, you have to take care of yourself to be ready for September and that push.”

The energetic infielder has been one of the team’s most valuable players this season and has contributed in a variety of roles. Sandoval’s 14 home runs tie him for second place on the club with starting third baseman Evan Longoria and his 18 pinch hits have tied him for the San Francisco Giants franchise record with Ken Oberkfell, who recorded 18 in 1989.

Neither Sandoval nor Bochy listed a definitive timetable for Sandoval’s potential return to the roster, but it’s possible Sandoval could be limited to pinch-hit duties for the remainder of the season.

“This has flared up on him before but not quite like this,” Bochy said. “Sometimes it goes away in two to three days and other times it lingers. This one we can’t get to go away.”

Sandoval said the pain is worst when he throws and swings from the right side of the plate, but he said he would be willing to remain active and pinch hit as a left-hander during the month of September if his injury does not improve.

It’s possible Sandoval will require a postseason operation to clean up his elbow, but the effusively positive infielder remained hopeful that his pain will subside in the coming days.

“I’ve got to think positive thoughts that I can throw and play in the field too,” Sandoval said. “It depends on how it’ll react. In 2013, I got almost the same (injury) and I missed three weeks in spring training and I started on Opening Day against (Clayton) Kershaw.”

Sandoval’s previous history with elbow inflammation suggests the Giants can remain optimistic about his ability to contribute this season, but it will be at least a week before the club has a better idea of what they can expect from him.

Regardless of how long Sandoval is sidelined, Bochy made it clear that his absence is a crushing loss for a Giants team that’s benefitted from his presence both on the field and in the clubhouse.

“He’s a huge weapon,” Bochy said.

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