Programming note: Mets-Giants coverage starts tonight at 6:30 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (Channel Locations)
SAN FRANCISCO – The Giants have the best record in baseball and they hold an 8 ½ game lead in the NL West, so it’s easy to forget they aren’t at full strength.
They should be soon.
Right-hander Santiago Casilla threw 30 pitches off a bullpen mound on Saturday and his strained hamstring responded well. He’s expected to have another mound session on Monday and could begin a minor league rehab assignment as early as Wednesday, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Casilla would make three or four appearances before the club activates him, Bochy added.
Casilla was carried off the field May 21 in Colorado when he strained his hamstring while trying to beat out an infield hit. Given his extreme reaction, it appeared he might have sustained a season-ending injury. Instead, he’ll end up missing just a few weeks, and it might leave him a few more bullets come September and potentially beyond.
The Giants expect first baseman Brandon Belt to return close to his six-week recovery schedule after he had pins removed from his fractured thumb. Belt is running and swinging one-handed in an effort to reduce the amount of conditioning work he’ll need once he’s cleared for full baseball activities. Belt will require a minor league rehab assignment as well.
Finally, Buster Posey hasn’t gone on the disabled list but his familiar presence in the lineup definitely has been lacking at times while he deals with lower back irritation. Bochy agreed with the suggestion that Posey’s two-run home run Friday night might have given the former MVP a much-needed jolt of confidence.
“I think so,” Bochy said. “That nagging lower back injury, I think that did slow him down a little. (The home run) does give him confidence that, 'Hey, I’m fine. I can let it go.’ It should have done a lot for him.”