Giants notes: No DL for Sandoval yet, etc.

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Giants notes: No DL for Sandoval yet, etc.

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants described Pablo Sandoval's strained hamstring as "much improved," and they will not place him on the disabled list Friday.

"He's making improvement like we were hoping," manager Bruce Bochy said. "But you have to do the right thing. That's what it's going to come down to."

Bochy wouldn't rule out Sandoval playing against the Los Angeles Dodgers this weekend.

Asked if Sandoval could be available to pinch hit Friday night in a big situation, Bochy responded, "How big? Oh sure I'd be tempted. They may tell me during the game that he's available."

So is the disabled list ruled out?

"That's always a possibility," Bochy said. "You don't want to do that, unless you have to. Right now, we don't think we have to."

It's still not out of the realm of possibilities that Sandoval ends up on the DL, but the Giants were not ready to make that concession as of pregame Friday.

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The Giants could activate first baseman Aubrey Huff at any time.

"He's running well," Bochy said. "He looks good. He's at a point where he could be activated."

The coaching staff will watch Huff take batting practice Friday evening, and it's still possible he could be activated prior to Friday's first pitch.

If Huff is activated, the corresponding move is not expected to involve Sandoval. It would likely be Justin Christian who is sent down to Triple-A.

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Hector Sanchez caught five innings in Fresno on Thursday, and his sprained left knee responded well.

Sanchez will catch another seven innings for the Triple-A Grizzlies Friday.

He is eligible to be activated on Thursday.

Sanchez, 22, continues to take ground balls at first and could be a factor there when he returns to the Giants.

Down on the Farm: Coach's view of San Jose Giants' stacked outfield

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San Jose Giants/Tim Cattera

Down on the Farm: Coach's view of San Jose Giants' stacked outfield

If it weren't for a bevy of injuries this year, Steven Duggar would be roaming the outfield for a higher level than the San Jose Giants right now. Just ask his manager. 

"If healthy at the beginning of the year, he could be playing at higher levels or the big leagues," Giants manager Nestor Rojas said before the team's 12-7 win Thursday night.  

Duggar backed up his manager's comments hours later in only his sixth game of the year with San Jose. The 23-year-old hit a grand slam, scored two runs and stole a base. Of his six hits in six games with the Giants, five have gone for extra base hits -- four doubles and Thursday's grand slam. 

"He's a solid player. It's fun to watch him play and go out there and compete every day," Rojas said. 

San Francisco selected Duggar in the sixth round of the 2015 MLB Draft out of Clemson. Between Advanced Single-A in San Jose and Double-A with the Richmond Flying Squirrels, Duggar hit .302 with 10 home runs and 15 stolen bases while playing center field in 2016. So far with San Jose this season though, Duggar is primarily playing right field. The change isn't permanent and only shows his versatility to Rojas. 

"He’s one of those guys who’s a really good athlete and can play all three positions in the outfield," Rojas said. 

Once he became healthy, Duggar joined another Giants top prospect, Bryan Reynolds, in San Jose's outfield. And like Duggar, center field is Reynolds' first position, but he's been seeing a lot of time in the corners too. 

"I think it's too early to dictate if he'll be in a corner or center," Rojas believes. "He's really good and he has the tools to play center field. He's got speed and he's got range. He can do really well in all three." 

After starting in left field Thursday night, Reynolds has now played 45 games in center, 24 in right and five in left field this season.

At the plate, Reynolds, who was the Giants' lone representative at the Futures Game this year, is slashing .300/.348/.448 in 80 games. He has also hit five home runs, eight triples and 18 doubles. As he becomes stronger and continues to mature, Rojas thinks Reynolds' power will be unleashed with five-tool potential. 

"Yeah, no doubt about it. The power's gonna come," Rojas said. "First of all, he's a good hitter. I believe that will come around later on and he can hit already. He hasn't shown that much, but it will come." 

The key for Reynolds to climb up the ranks is a simple concept and no different than any other prospect. 

"Just be consistent, it's the most important thing in this business," Rojas said. "It is baseball. You're going to be hot for one month and then go into a slump. Consistency will come with better mechanics and an approach at the plate.

"The kid has been very solid here and very consistent with his approach at the plate. He has the tools."

Rounding out San Jose's stacked outfield is the speedy Ronnie Jebavy, Gio Brusa (second on the team with 11 home runs) and Heath Quinn, who Rojas sees as having big-league pop in his bat. 

"The power is there, he’s one of those big-tool players," Rojas says of Quinn. 

While the Giants have gone through a grueling game of outfield musical chairs in San Francisco this season, a bright future awaits just a drive away in San Jose. 

Giants continue embarrassing stretch against rebuilding Padres

Giants continue embarrassing stretch against rebuilding Padres

SAN FRANCISCO — Three years ago, the Giants and Padres were the two teams in it until the very end for Pablo Sandoval’s services. He ended up in Boston, and when he became available again over the past week, the Padres politely backed away. 

They prefer youth and Rule 5 Draft picks. They came into this season knowing they might lose 100 games, and they didn’t mind. If anything, they welcomed the increased shot at the top pick in the 2018 draft. They’re here to tank, but the Giants (who expect to welcome Sandoval back on a minor league deal as soon as Friday) just won’t let them. 

Thursday’s 5-2 loss to San Diego was like so many others over the past calendar year. The Giants didn’t hit, they didn’t come through in the clutch, they did not support their starting pitcher, and they did not guarantee a handshake line. 

The Giants have lost 15 of 20 to the Padres since last year’s All-Star break, including three straight last July to kickstart a tailspin that has lasted over a year now. They have dropped four of five meetings in this second half, which was supposed to prove that a Padre-like rebuild is not needed up here in the Bay Area. They are five games behind the Padres in the race to finish a distant fourth in the National League, and in a season full of disappointment, that stands as one of the more embarrassing facts. 

Not even Madison Bumgarner’s return to AT&T Park could turn the tide. The lefty looked good most of the night, but two homers left him with a rougher-than-hoped line. Bumgarner gave up four earned on two homers. He has allowed multiple homers in back-to-back games for the first time in his career. Both starts have come against the Padres. 

“I’ve got to stop giving up homers,” Bumgarner said of his start. “That’s not going to work.”

Bumgarner said he felt fine physically, and his curveball — the pitch that has backfired on him most often since his return — feels right mechanically. He was facing his last batter in the seventh as George Kontos warmed up with a runner on. Corey Spangenberg hit a two-run shot to the deepest part of the yard to make it 4-2. 

Buster Posey flied out with the bases loaded in the eighth. The Giants brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth but couldn’t score, which has been the norm against the Padres. The Giants are averaging just 3.2 runs per game during this 20-game stretch of futility against a team they once dominated. 

“We need to win ballgames right now,” Bumgarner said. “We’ve got to start doing that. There’s no magic solution. We’ve got to start playing better, all of us.”