Giants outfielder Michael Conforto is dealing with a heel bruise on his left foot and will undergo an X-ray, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Conforto will also undergo an MRI, per Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area, who adds that the outfielder is walking with a limp at the moment.
To this point, it’s unclear how severe the injury is, but it’s obviously somewhat concerning that Conforto is having trouble putting his weight on the foot. The fact that he’s about to undergo a series of tests points to some level of concern on the part of the club as well. “He was feeling much better last night than he is today,” manager Gabe Kapler tells Maria I. Guardado of MLB.com. “He’s in more discomfort.” The results of that testing will provide some clarity on what to expect going forward.
Health has been a major focus for Conforto in recent years, as he missed the entire 2022 season due to shoulder surgery. The Giants then took a shot on a bounceback by signing him to a two-year, $36MM deal, one that allowed him to opt out after the first season. There was an added level of risk since he also struggled in 2021, hitting .232/.344/.384 that year for a wRC+ of 106. He was still above average but well off his previous form, as he hit .265/.369/.495 from 2017 to 2020 for a 133 wRC+.
Despite an entire year off, he has been in good form so far this year, having hit 11 home runs already. His .250/.347/.464 batting line translates to a 123 wRC+, just about in line with his career production. He has been on a particularly torrid stretch lately, hitting seven of those 11 home runs in the past three weeks while slashing .373/.421/.716 for a wRC+ of 202 in that time.
It would obviously be a blow to the Giants if that kind of bat was removed for the lineup, so the results of the imaging will be significant for the club. They are already without other outfield options, as each of Joc Pederson, Heliot Ramos and Luis González is on the injured list right now. Should Conforto join them, the Giants would have to figure out a plan for moving forward.
Mitch Haniger and Mike Yastrzemski would have two outfield spots spoken for, with Bryce Johnson and Austin Slater also on the roster. Johnson is generally considered a glove-first option while Slater is an effective hitter but primarily against left-handed pitchers. He’s hit .290/.380/.476 against southpaws in his career but .226/.314/.336 otherwise. Blake Sabol could also spend some time in the outfield though he’s also part of the catching mix alongside Patrick Bailey. Luis Matos is on the 40-man roster and playing well in the minors but hasn’t yet made his major league debut. He has a .315/.395/.452 batting line this year, split between Double-A and Triple-A.
The extent of the heel injury could also potentially have ramifications for Conforto personally, as he will be deciding whether or not to trigger his opt-out at season’s end. He’s making salaries of $18MM this year and next and will have to decide whether to leave the back half on the table or return to the open market in search of a larger guarantee. The opt-out provision is contingent on him reaching 350 plate appearances on the season and he’s already more than halfway there, currently at 196. A significant absence would decrease his chances of getting over that threshold. Even if he does make it over the 350 line, any injury-related dip in performance could impact his decision.