Programming note: Tonight’s Giants game is on NBC Bay Area but tune in to an hour-long SportsNet Central at 6:00 to get you ready for Game 1 of the Bay Bridge Series.
OAKLAND – Giants manager Bruce Bochy set up Monday night’s Bay Bridge series opener this way:
“They’re firing on all cylinders. We blew a gasket.”
Not long ago, this four-game home-and-home series would be a meeting of the teams with baseball’s best records. The Giants no longer meet that standard. But Bochy has Brandon Belt back in the lineup and he hopes to have more of his key cogs available soon.
Quick health updates:
--Pablo Sandoval is unable to straighten his left arm and hasn’t tried swinging a bat since he was hit flush on the left elbow by a pitch he swung at on Saturday in San Diego. Bochy was holding out hope that Sandoval could be available off the bench, but the writing appears to be on the wall here. With another day of treatment, Bochy won’t rule out Sandoval returning to the lineup on Tuesday. At least the Giants already know that Sandoval just has a bone bruise after X-rays were taken in San Diego. The way Sandoval’s hand was shaking just after getting hit, Bochy feared his third baseman had sustained a fracture.
--Angel Pagan is here in Oakland and sat down with Bochy to map out a rehab plan for his lower back. Pagan is still resting and letting an epidural take effect. He’ll go to Arizona on Tuesday and continue his rehab at the Giants’ complex there. The plan is to restart baseball activities on Wednesday and get a read on whether the injection was effective or not. There’s no chance Pagan returns before the All-Star break, and he’s not expected to be ready immediately after that, either.
--Marco Scutaro talked to Bochy and told him he feels ready to rejoin the active roster after a week’s worth of games in the Arizona League. But Bochy wants to see Scutaro play nine innings and see if his chronic back injury can withstand the pounding that comes with that. Scutaro is scheduled to debut with Triple-A Fresno Monday night and play seven innings. The Giants are looking at having Scutaro return as a bench player and occasional starter at second base. This could happen sooner than anyone expected a week ago.
--Brandon Crawford isn’t hurt, but he’s in a 2-for-30 slump. He told me he raised his hands in an effort to try something different that would allow him not to feel caught in between fastballs and breaking pitches. Bochy talked to his shortstop Monday and reminded him that he won a game with the diving stop he made Saturday in San Diego. He also told Crawford he wanted him to get back to the lower stance he used to begin the season.
--Bochy was going to check on Jeremy Affeldt’s availability and said he wouldn’t totally abandon using Sergio Romo or Jean Machi in leveraged situations. As Bochy put it, “You have to use somebody down there.” The way the Giants’ right-handers are pitching, the bullpen looks to be the area where the A’s have the most obvious advantage in this series.