MILWAUKEE — A healthy Brandon Crawford was held out of the Giants’ lineup for a second straight game Friday, with rookie sensation Casey Schmitt making his second straight start at the position Crawford has occupied for more than a decade.
The decision, manager Gabe Kapler said, had more to do with Schmitt’s impressive play since being called up earlier this month.
“He’s not the easiest guy to take out of the lineup right now,” Kapler said Friday before their second game against the Brewers. “He’s doing a really nice job at shortstop and he’s having really good at-bats.”
While Schmitt is a natural third baseman, he has looked the part as a major-league shortstop, a position he only began playing in Double-A last season. At the plate, Schmitt’s aggressive approach has resulted in one of the strongest starts for a rookie in franchise history. Hitting safely in 13 of his first 15 starts, Schmitt recorded two more hits in Thursday’s series-opening win and drove in a pair of runs, going for extra bases for the seventh time. While cooling off somewhat from his red-hot start, Schmitt still took a .339 batting average and .855 OPS into Friday’s game, though he was still searching for his first walk after 62 plate appearances.
Casey Schmitt gets his second straight start at short for #SFGiants, while Brandon Crawford sits for a second day in a row. “He’s not the easiest guy to take out of the lineup right now,” Gabe Kapler said. pic.twitter.com/ujHwfx2PbB
— Evan Webeck (@EvanWebeck) May 26, 2023
Crawford has started more games at shortstop than anyone in Giants history, and he’s in good company having logged more games exclusively at the position than all but three players in MLB history — Luis Aparicio, Ozzie Smith and Derek Jeter.
This season, however, he has been the third-worst shortstop in the majors, according to Defensive Runs Saved (minus-7), and is on pace for career lows in batting average (.172), on-base percentage (.252) and OPS (.575); his slugging percentage (.323) would be his worst since his rookie season.
Crawford was retroactively charged with a second error from the last game he played, Sunday’s loss in Minnesota. In addition to the ground ball he muffed, Crawford let a on-time and on-target throw from Blake Sabol skip out of his glove on a stolen base attempt. It amounted to his sixth error and his second two-error game of the season.
The veteran shortstop has taken it all in stride, though, earning praise from Kapler for his mentorship of Schmitt and Brett Wisely, the Giants’ other rookie middle infielder.
“I think Craw’s doing a really nice job handling the situation,” Kapler said. “Probably more importantly than anything else, he’s done a great job of mentoring our younger players like Casey Schmitt and Brett Wisely. …
“Craw and I have had a couple of chats along the way and we’ll continue to stay in touch on things. We’re not gonna have a talk every day. It’s one of those things that can become overkill. But we’re in communication and I’m trying to give him a heads up on days he’s going to play.”
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— Infielder Thairo Estrada was also out of the lineup Friday. He was limited to pinch-running duties after tweaking his left wrist in his final at-bat Wednesday in Minnesota. While he started Thursday’s series opener, Kapler said that Estrada “felt a bit compromised” and could miss a few days.
— Outfielder Austin Slater (left hamstring) is set to begin a rehab assignment Saturday after running at full speed without issue on Thursday. The plan is for him to get 2-3 at-bats and 5-6 innings in the field, Kapler said.
— Scheduled to start Saturday, Logan Webb (back) threw a brief bullpen session to make sure he was good to go and got a thumbs up from pitching coach Andrew Bailey. Webb left his last start with back tightness and had his next turn in the rotation pushed back two days, so he will be pitching on six days’ rest.