The Giants announced they’ve reinstated infielder Tommy La Stella from the 60-day injured list (via Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle). Starter Anthony DeSclafani is going on the 10-day IL, retroactive to August 3, with right shoulder fatigue. To open 40-man roster space for La Stella, reliever Conner Menez was designated for assignment.
La Stella returns after a three month absence. He initially landed on the IL with a left hamstring strain and then suffered a right hand fracture while rehabbing. It’s been a tough first season in San Francisco for La Stella, who has thus far been limited to 75 plate appearances of .235/.297/.353 hitting. That’s far off the quietly excellent .289/.356/.471 line the lefty-swinging La Stella put up with the Angels and A’s between 2019-20.
Despite the slow start, the Giants are surely happy to have La Stella back in the lineup. San Francisco signed the 32-year-old to a three-year, $18.75MM contract over the winter. There’s little question the front office believes in his ability to return to his prior form. La Stella figures to rotate between second and third base, at least until Evan Longoria returns from his own lengthy IL stint. That’ll free up Kris Bryant to see more time in the outfield and offer manager Gabe Kapler a quality left-handed bat to mix in with the right-handed hitting Donovan Solano and Wilmer Flores at those positions.
In addition to La Stella, San Francisco figures to bring back Longoria and Brandon Belt in the not too distant future. They’ll be welcome reinforcements for the 67-40 Giants, who hold MLB’s best record and lead the Dodgers by 3.5 games in the National League West.
It doesn’t seem there’s much cause for alarm with DeSclafani despite the ominous-sounding diagnosis. Kapler told reporters (including Andrew Baggarly of the Athletic) the expectation is that he’ll miss just one start. The righty struggled in 2020 — his final season with the Reds — but has had a bounceback campaign in the Bay Area. DeSclafani has tossed 126 1/3 innings of 3.28 ERA/4.03 SIERA ball with average or better strikeout (23.3%), walk (6.5%) and groundball (45.0%) rates. He’s already thrown nearly 100 more innings than he did in Cincinnati last season, so the Giants are surely keeping a close eye on his workload to keep him healthy for the stretch run.
Menez is something of a surprising cut, as the southpaw has pitched quite well in his big league time this season. He’s tossed 14 innings with a 3.86 ERA, punching out a decent 24.2% of opposing hitters with a massive 59.1% grounder rate. However, he’s struggled mightily in 22 frames with Triple-A Sacramento, managing just a 6.95 ERA and walking an alarming 15.9% of opposing hitters in the minors.
Triple-A struggles aside, it wouldn’t be surprising to see another team add Menez off waivers. The 26-year-old has a fine 4.04 ERA/4.34 SIERA over parts of three major league seasons and can still be optioned for the remainder of this year.