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Joey Bart to begin Giants rehab assignment, key players nearing return

Bart to begin rehab assignment, key bats nearing return originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO — Gabe Kapler drove a couple of hours north on the off day and had a delicious cheeseburger, but he wasn’t able to fully embrace the break. As the Giants returned to work Friday afternoon, Kapler smiled and noted that off days are a lot more fun when you’re coming off a win.

From a health perspective, at least, it was a productive 48 hours for the Giants.

Michael Conforto got treatment on his bruised left heel and the Giants are hopeful they can use their home run leader off the bench on Friday night against the Baltimore Orioles. They still are without Thairo Estrada, but he has started a hitting progression and Kapler said he could be back when eligible on Monday, or a day or two later.

Conforto and Estrada will return to starting roles when healthy. It’s a bit murkier for Joey Bart, but at least he is close to being an option again. Bart (groin strain) started a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento on Friday and is scheduled to catch five innings his first time out.

With Bart sidelined, Patrick Bailey has grabbed the starting job behind the plate. Bailey has played strong defense while also hitting .333 with a pair of homers, and it’s hard to imagine the Giants going away from him anytime soon. They also could carry three catchers, with Blake Sabol primarily playing the outfield and DH, although the latter spot’s at-bats will dry up when Joc Pederson returns.

On Friday, Kapler said only that the goal right now is to get Bart healthy.

“We’ll get him physically ready and then make a decision at that point,” he said.

— Camilo Doval was named NL Reliever of the Month in September of his first two seasons. In his third year, he did it in May. Doval got the award on Friday after posting a 1.32 ERA in 14 May appearances and converting all 11 of his save opportunities.

“He’s throwing a ton of strikes, getting swings-and-misses, he’s been very durable for us,” Kapler said. “He’s been very dependable and I would expect more of the same as he continues to make adjustments.”

The award likely won’t be the last honor for Doval in the first half. He has a 2.19 ERA and leads the NL in saves, looking like a very strong bet to make his first All-Star appearance in July.

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— Thursday was one of the most exciting days the team’s player development staff has had in recent years. Reggie Crawford, last year’s first-round pick, threw two sharp innings in Low-A and second-rounder Carson Whisenhunt was moved up to Double-A, his second promotion of the season.

In Triple-A, outfielder Luis Matos followed back-to-back three-hit games by picking up four hits and hitting his first homer for the River Cats. Matos is batting .391 since getting bumped up from Double-A.

Kapler reiterated that the 21-year-old needs to keep showing this type of plate discipline for a while longer, but he added, “He’s not that far away.”
— Ross Stripling (low back strain) threw a 25-pitch bullpen session on Friday. Stripling hasn’t pitched since coming out in the fourth inning on May 17.

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