How SF Giants’ LaMonte Wade Jr. Working to regain his 2021 form

PHOENIX — The Giants faced a starting right-hander on Monday, but there was no LaMonte Wade Jr. in the lineup. was not. Later, in the sixth inning, manager Gabe Kapler had an opportunity to pull a bat from his bench to face the righty, but he went over Wade with Mike Ystrzymski.

What’s going on with this platoon-based team’s favorite righty masher? The guy whose clutch hit last season came in so much they made history and nicknamed him “Late Night LaMonte”?

Kapler explained after the Giants’ 7-0 loss — their fifth in a row — that Wade was, “working on some things with his swing and we want to give him some room to work through those things.” “

A day later, Wade shared some of the things that have been bothering him this season and the fixes he’s been working on.

A year after enjoying a breakout campaign with 18 home runs and an .808 OPS (while collecting more game-tying or go-ahead hits in the ninth inning or later than anyone in the last 40 years). Wade .173/. 292/.333 (a .625 OPS) in just 27 games, his season-ending knee injury cost him spring training.

“I feel like I’m getting a little tied up right now, not enough room to work with the moves that I’ve been doing,” Wade said Tuesday after the Giants’ second of three games with the D-backs. Said earlier. “But these last couple of days, we’ve been watching video and feeling in the cage and BP. It’s feeling a lot better.”

On Monday, Wade got to the ballpark early and took extra swings at the outfield. He has spent even more time in the video room.

Speaking at his locker on Tuesday, Wade used hand gestures to demonstrate how “not having enough space” has affected his approach to the ball.

“I’m getting a lot of disconnect, so I’m long instead of short to the ball,” Wade said. “That’s what we’re trying to get back to.”

Kepler has looked less aggressive at the plate, which is likely a sign that his struggles have hurt his confidence.

“Sometimes when LaMonte is a little bit more tentative, you feel it right away,” Kapler said. “When LaMonte is right, it’s a dangerous, aggressive look at the plate. What you see when LaMonte is where he wants to be is trying to destroy the first pitch he can drive and high. can do.

Wade said he has been working on a swing issue since returning from his second stint on the injured list. Since injuring his knee on the basepaths in a late spring training game, the illness has sidelined him twice this year, including an IL return just two weeks after being activated the first time. Travel is also included.

“It was definitely tough,” Wade said. “Trying to get in a rhythm, then when you get hurt you get out of it and come back and get hurt again. I’m really just trying to focus on staying healthy. So that I can get into that rhythm and work hard.

Wade’s season could be classified as a microcosm of the Giants as a whole: too many injuries, not enough clutch. Overall, the Giants have had 25 players miss a combined 609 games due to injury this season. And that pinch-hit bravado? San Francisco has three home runs in those situations, compared to an MLB-record 18 last season.

“When he was at his best last year, that’s when he was Late Night LaMonte, right?” Kapler said. “He’s always been that kind of guy for us. I don’t think anyone on our roster has any doubt that it’s there and we just need to keep digging because it’s going to come.

The Return of La Stella

For the first time since July 7, Tommy LaStella was on the Giants’ active roster Tuesday night.

The club activated him before Tuesday’s game, allowing reliever Gregory Santos to make the roster. Although he was not in the starting lineup against Arizona left-handed starter Tyler Gilbert, Kapler said there is a “good chance” La Stella will start at first, second or third base in Wednesday’s series finale.

“That’s where we’re trending,” Kepler said. “He’s ready to play. His pre-game work has been excellent. Especially in times like we’re going through now we have to focus on pre-game work, and that’s been good in all three positions he plays.