According to a report, San Francisco Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro is “50-50” to be ready for the March 31 opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks because of a lingering back injury.
Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News reported Thursday that Scutaro, who got two at-bats in his first spring game earlier this week, had an epidural injection in his back and that manager Bruce Bochy is not overly optimistic at this point.
“This is to try to get him over the hump,” Bochy said. “He’ll be down a couple of days but the hope is that he’ll be good to go”
Bochy said Scutaro is “50-50” for the opener.
Medical news was better for outfielders Angel Pagan and Michael Morse. Both played in a minor league game Thursday. Pagan has also been bothered by a back injury and Morse is nursing a calf strain.
Scutaro has been bothered by the back problem since last spring, but gutted out 127 games last season despite the back injury and an injury to his index finger and earned his first All-Star Game selection at age 37. He hit .297/.357/.369 with 57 runs, 23 doubles, three triples, two home runs and 31 RBI and struck out only 34 times. He was the second-most difficult hitter in the National League to fan in 2013, going 14.4 at-bats per strikeout. He led the NL in that category in 2012.
Joaquin Arias is the most likely candidate to fill in for Scutaro, with Brandon Hicks, Tony Abreu and Ehire Adrianza as contenders for a roster spot should Scutaro land on the disabled list.
Hicks is hitting .394/.500/.788 in 33 at-bats this spring, with eight runs, seven doubles, two homers and 10 RBI. Abreu has struggled, hitting .179/.220/.179 in 39 at bats, with three runs and two RBI, and Adrianza is at .194/.242/.484 in 31 at bats, with five runs, a double, a triple, two home runs and six RBI.
The 28-year-old Hicks signed a minor-league deal with the Giants in November after spending 2013 with the New York Mets organization, where he hit .283/.348/.450 in 95 games with Triple-A Las Vegas, hitting 11 homers while scoring 57 runs and driving in 49.
Originally a third-round pick of the Atlanta Braves out of Texas A&M in 2007, Hicks has played 55 major league games, including 22 with the A’s in 2012.
Abreu, 29, split last season between the Giants and Triple-A Fresno. In 53 games with the big club, Abreu hit .268/.301/.442 with 21 runs, 12 doubles, three triples, two homers and 14 RBI. He hit .338/.366/.523 in 22 games at Fresno with nine doubles and a homer in 71 at-bats.
Abreu was signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic by the Dodgers in 2002. He debuted in the majors with the Dodgers in 2007 and has also played at the big-league level with the Diamondbacks and Royals. The Giants claimed him off waivers from Kansas City in February 2013.
Adrianza, 24, made his big-league debut with the Giants last September, getting into nine games and going 4-for-18 with a double and a homer. San Francisco signed him as an international free agent out of Venezuela in 2006 and he hit .240/.331/.312 in 73 games with Double-A Richmond last season before getting a promotion to Fresno, where he hit .310/.409/.441 in 45 games.
Scutaro was originally signed by the Indians as an international free agent out of Venezuela in 1994 and he debuted with the Mets in 2002. He spent four years with the A’s from 2004-07 and has also played for the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Rockies in a 12-year big-league career.
The Giants acquired Scutaro on July 27, 2012, sending infielder Charlie Culberson to Colorado. Scutaro was nothing short of a revelation down the stretch for San Francisco, hitting .362/.385/.473 in 61 games as the Giants won the NL West title and he went on to earn NLCS MVP honors after going 14-for-28 in the Giants’ seven-game win over the Cardinals.