6:49PM: Belt told The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly and other reporters that he received a cortisone shot in his knee today. Both Belt and Giants manager Gabe Kapler feel that the first baseman won’t miss much time, perhaps even just the minimum 10 days.
Belt is no stranger to injury problems in general, and inflammation in his right knee has led to two recent lengthy absences — a six-week stint on the IL last season, and Belt missed most of this year’s Spring Training. There was some thought that Belt might need to start the year on the IL in order to ramp up after missing so much of camp, but Belt was on the Opening Day roster and has been playing regularly, apart from a 10-day trip to the COVID-related IL.
It’s probably safe to assume that this knee issue and the positive COVID test have contributed to a somewhat slow start for Belt, who is still producing at a 110 OPS+/115 wRC+ pace by hitting .228/.342/.386 over his first 120 PA. By Belt’s recent high standards, however, this counts as a veritable slump, considering Belt delivered a whopping .988 OPS over 560 PA in the 2020-21 seasons.
This production led San Francisco to issue Belt (who turned 34 last month) a one-year, $18.4MM qualifying offer last fall, and Belt opted to take the one-year payday rather than test free agency. Belt has become a staple in the Bay Area, spending his entire pro career with the Giants and earning World Series rings in both 2012 and 2014.
Belt and the Giants can hope that this bout of inflammation won’t cost the slugger another six weeks, but the club does have some depth on hand even though LaMonte Wade Jr. also just went on the 10-day IL due to his own case of knee inflammation. Darin Ruf and Wilmer Flores figure to take the bulk of first base duty in Belt’s absence, and Tommy La Stella can provide a left-handed hitting complement to the first base picture now that he’s back from his own IL stint.