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SF Giants place Patrick Bailey on concussion list, recall long lost catcher Joey Bart

SF Giants place Patrick Bailey on concussion list, recall long lost catcher Joey Bart

The Giants planned to lean on rookie catcher Patrick Bailey down the stretch, but they’ll now be without him for at least the next week.

Bailey, 24, was placed on the seven-day injured list with a concussion he suffered in Tuesday night’s loss to the Cubs. Joey Bart, stuck at Triple-A Sacramento for the past four months, rushed from Las Vegas, where the River Cats were playing, to Chicago and started Wednesday afternoon’s series finale.

The Cubs’ six-run seventh inning Tuesday night was the Giants’ downfall in their fifth straight loss. And it also cost them their starting catcher.

Bailey began feeling light-headed after a play at the plate in the seventh, Kapler told reporters in Chicago. Jeimer Candelario was on third base when Nick Madrigal bounced a high-hopper to Casey Schmitt at third. Schmitt’s throw was low, and as Candelario slid across the plate to score the go-ahead run, his knee appeared to knock Bailey’s head back.

Bailey was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the top of the ninth, leaving the Giants without an available catcher if they had tied the game or taken the lead.

Chicago Cubs’ Jeimer Candelario scores as San Francisco Giants catcher Patrick Bailey makes a tag without the ball during the seventh inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) 

Just days earlier, in San Diego, Kapler had said they planned on playing the impressive rookie “as much as he’s physically capable.” But after starting four in a row, including a day game after a night game in San Diego and again Monday afternoon after a long flight, Bailey was only in as a defensive replacement for Blake Sabol.

Over the weekend, catching coach Craig Albernaz chuckled at the idea of it being Bailey who ended up as the guy down the stretch, thinking back to the four-man competition they started the season with (which did not include Bailey, at the time having never played above High-A).

Bart made the Opening Day roster but after a mid-May groin strain never regained his spot.

Since arriving on May 19, when Bart suffered his left groin strain, Bailey has asserted himself as the catcher of the future, becoming their second-most valuable position player (3.1 fWAR) fueled by his exceptional defense.

In 57 games with Sacramento, Bart batted .247/.357/.399, a .756 OPS, and struck out in 28% of his plate appearances to go with a much-improved 12% walk rate. He didn’t exactly force the Giants’ hands with Bailey performing in the majors, but with him out for at least the next week, Bart is all of a sudden back in the picture.

Mecker optioned; Matos recalled

The Giants also swapped young outfielders in a separate roster move. Wade Meckler, the 2022 eighth-round pick rushed to the majors after only 92 games, was optioned back to Triple-A Sacramento for Luis Matos, who had to wait until Wednesday for the 10-day window since he was optioned to expire.

Meckler tore through every level of the minors but, like many players do, discovered the major leagues was a different animal. Arriving with a pristine 1:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in the minors, he struck out in 25 of his 56 at-bats during his 20-game look in the majors while drawing only six walks. He flashed elite speed, the fastest timed sprints of anyone on the Giants this season, but will benefit from a full major-league spring training to work on his route running and base running.

It won’t be the last Giants fans see from Meckler. He’s a gamer.

In a quiet clubhouse after one of their losses at Petco Park this past weekend, while other players showered and dressed and made their way back to the hotel, Meckler was at his locker in his uniform with his bat in his hands. He stood up, assumed his stance and took mock swing after mock swing.

It’s not common to see that kind of work so immediately in the aftermath of a loss, or any game. Approached the next day about it, Meckler revealed that he wasn’t feeling as “dangerous” at the plate as he did earlier this season and so he and Alex McGarry, a former Oregon State teammate currently with the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate, were texting each other video of each other’s swings and breaking them down.

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There was one from earlier this season, at Double-A Richmond.

“I didn’t like that one,” Meckler said, “but it’s way better than this.”

He pulled up another video, this one from one of his recent games in the majors.

He’s looking for something specific in his back leg. There’s no crease in the hip of his pants.

Meckler begins to go into great detail about his mechanics, deep in baseball speak, but the gist is this: No crease means he’s more upright, which means less power coming from his back leg, which means a less powerful, and thus less confident, swing overall.

While the decision to accelerate his timeline, two years before they would have had to add him to the 40-man roster for Rule 5 protection, may be looked back on with regret, Meckler is the type of player who will benefit from the invite to major-league spring training that comes with that 40-man spot.