The San Francisco Giants are the defending World Series champions, but their title defense has taken some hits in the injury department at the start of the 2015 season. The latest setback involves first baseman Brandon Belt.

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Belt Leaves Tuesday’s Game

Tuesday, April 7

Nick Piecoro of noted that Belt left Tuesday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks:

Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle later reported that Belt strained his groin.

Losing Belt would be a difficult blow for a San Francisco lineup that was relying on him to be a productive anchor in the middle of the order this year. Durability has been a concern for the first baseman, and he only played in 61 games last season with various ailments.

Steve Gardner of USA Today believed that Belt was in line for a jump in 2015, which is yet another reason why this injury is less than ideal for the defending champs:

Though his overall numbers were down last year, Belt’s power stroke is on the upswing. His ratio of one home run every 17.8 at-bats last year trumps the 29.9 from 2013. His 44% fly-ball rate was a career high, as was his 18% home run-to-fly ball rate.

Belt, 26, has already shown he can hit for average, and now he seems to be growing into his power. 

The San Francisco Press pointed out that the injury list is getting fairly crowded for the Giants in the early going of the season:

If Belt is forced to miss extensive time, Travis Ishikawa would likely be asked to fill in at first base in the long run.

Ishikawa doesn’t have the power stroke or RBI capabilities of someone like Belt, but he is a solid, average hitter who hit .274 in 73 at-bats for the Giants in 2014. If he can spray line drives to different parts of the field and play solid defense, San Francisco may be able to survive this setback to Belt.

However, MLB writer Andrew Baggarly noted that Ishikawa won’t be available for some time either:

Joaquin Arias came into the game for Belt on Tuesday and could be asked to fill in for the time being. The Giants could use a run of luck in the injury department.

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