Giants grooming Sandoval at third, not first

August 4, 2012, 11:17 pm
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DENVER Pablo Sandoval continued to make progress in hisbid to return from a strained hamstring when eligible on Thursday. He ransprints, took batting practice and fielded ground balls.

Notably, those grounders came at third base, not first base.

Mindful of the fact that Sandoval injured himself while stretchingfor a throw at first base, the Giants are prepping their All-Star switch-hitterwith a conservative mindset.

Im not going to rule out first base, Giants manager BruceBochy said. But obviously with what happened, well be a little more hesitantto put him back there.

The Giants also have abandoned the idea of putting HectorSanchez at first base. All of that bodes well for Brandon Belt and Brett Pill,although Buster Posey will continue to get starts at the position on selecteddays when Sanchez is behind the plate. In fact, full days off for Posey willbecome rarer as the Giants head down the stretch and the games become all themore significant.

As it is, its not easy to take Poseys bat out of thelineup. Hes hitting .463 with five home runs and 22 RBIs since the All-Starbreak.

Returning to Sandoval: Hes going to graduate to runningcurves on Sunday and then run bases after that. The Giants remain optimistic hecan return for Thursdays road-trip finale in St. Louis or when they begintheir next homestand on Friday. But they acknowledge they wont have a trueread on his hamstring until Sandoval really begins to push it on the bases.

With Sandoval on the DL and Emmanuel Burriss off the roster,who, pray tell, is the Giants emergency catcher?

He probably doesnt know it yet, but Arias, Bochy said.

That would be backup infielder Joaquin Arias. Has he evercaught before?

I dont think so, Bochy said.

It remains to be seen if Bochy will leave Angel Pagan in theleadoff spot against right-handed pitchers. But Bochy agreed that when a switch-hitterbegins to have success from one side, it can carry over to the other.

Bochy mentioned his experience managing Ken Caminiti with thePadres.

He said when the right side would come along first, it wasunbelievable how the left side would get better, too, Bochy said.

The Rockies havent named a starter for Sunday but theyactivated right-hander Edgmer Escalona today. The talk is that itll beEscalona if he isnt used in relief on Saturday.

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