Giants notes: Scutaro progressing, could return after break

Giants notes: Scutaro progressing, could return after break
July 3, 2014, 12:00 pm
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Marco Scutaro will play for the Giants’ Arizona League club on Thursday and could join Triple-A Fresno on Sunday. (USATSI)

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy receives all manner of miscellany in the mail from fans, and his inbox Thursday included a book -- “Mind Over Back Pain” -- with a request to deliver the copy to Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro.

Maybe Scutaro’s already read it.

The second baseman is moving forward in his rehab from a chronic lower back issue, and hope is becoming authentic that he’ll join the active roster by the time his minor league rehab assignment reaches its 20-day limit July 13, which is the last day before the All-Star break.

Scutaro will play for the Giants’ Arizona League club on Thursday, marking the first time he’s played consecutive days. If all goes well, he would join Triple-A Fresno on Sunday.

“This will be a big test,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “I’m hopeful. I think you have to have that. If you don’t, you don’t have anything.”

Scutaro lowered his sights and is no longer shooting to get his back in condition to be an everyday player. He’s grinding through discomfort since myriad efforts to bring him lasting relief have been unsuccessful.

Bochy just wants Scutaro back in the mix.

“That’d be awesome,” Bochy said. “If it’s a couple times a week (at second base), then we’ll take that. He would improve our bench. He’s got that short swing, a swing that can work as a pinch hitter, and his experience can help other guys too. He’s a popular guy in the clubhouse. I think other guys would like to have him around, too.”

When Scutaro was around the club last month in Arizona, he went over video of Ehire Adrianza’s at-bats with the rookie infielder. Scutaro’s presence and leadership were lauded during the Giants’ World Series run in 2012, which included six elimination victories in the NLDS and NLCS.

For now, Joe Panik is the starting second baseman and Bochy put him in the No. 2 spot behind new leadoff man Hunter Pence as the Giants go for their first home series victory since June 6-8.

Bochy plans for Brandon Belt to hit second when the first baseman is activated Friday in San Diego. For now, Bochy liked Panik in that slot over, say, shortstop Brandon Crawford because Panik doesn’t strike out and could be better suited to get a bunt down or execute and hit-and-run.

“And we still need help in the back of the order, and Crawford has done some nice things there,” Bochy said.