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Can Brandon Crawford’s return solve SF Giants’ defensive woes?

PHOENIX — Amid one of the Giants’ sloppiest stretches of play under manager Gabe Kapler, all their defensive cornerstone could do was sit and watch.

“It’s kind of been a long week and a half,” veteran shortstop Brandon Crawford said Tuesday before suiting up to play his first game since June 24.

Crawford was activated from the 10-day injured list in a series of roster moves that also returned left-handed reliever José Álvarez while optioning infielder Donovan Walton and placing catcher Curt Casali (Grade 2 right oblique strain) on the 10-day injured list.

Crawford, a three-time Gold Glover, has missed the past seven games while nursing various ailments, primarily inflammation in his left knee stemming from a slide into home plate in Atlanta. The Giants went 1-6 in those games, including losses in their past five entering Tuesday’s game.

In those five losses, the Giants committed seven errors with miscues coming in every contest.

“I see what you guys see. Just nothing’s really clicking for us right now. Some sloppy games that aren’t very fun to watch,” Crawford said. “We’ve got to clean that up and figure it out and get it turned around.”

Manager Gabe Kapler called Crawford a “solidifying force for us on the dirt.”

“Craw I think definitely provides some stability,” Kapler said. “It’s no secret that we didn’t really have that stability for a little while. It just feels like he’s going to smooth things out a little bit and calm things down on the dirt.”

With Thairo Estrada (illness) also sidelined since last Wednesday, Walton served as the Giants’ shortstop and committed two of those errors over the past three games.

Crawford, however, has not been the same defensive stalwart this season has been known for over the first 11 years of his career. After placing fifth among all MLB shortstops in Fangraphs’ defensive value last season (17.2), Crawford ranks 23rd this season (-0.3). His 10 errors this season already exceed his total from last year.

But the 35-year-old Crawford has been battling physical issues almost all season, ranging from his forearm to his quad and, most recently, his knee.

“I thought it was something I could just grind through like I did a lot throughout my career,” said Crawford, whose IL stint was only the third of his career. “In general the lower body feels a lot better and fresher. I definitely think (the time off) was good for me.”

Kapler, who has called for more energy from his team amid a 3-11 skid over the past 14 games, noted that Crawford — fresh, healthy and well-rested — was “moving around with a little hop in his step.”

“He’s in good spirits,” Kapler said. “He’s had some good work over the course of the last week. I think he has a chance to be really helpful for us.”

Crawford echoed that sentiment himself but was also focused on the work still needed to be done.

Source: Paradise Post