SAN FRANCISCO –- Marco Scutaro is 38 years old, he has a chronic back injury, he was a defensive liability at second base last season and 11 NL second basemen posted a higher slugging percentage than he did.
No, he does not profile as a difference-making force for a team that has scored 30 runs over its past 14 games.
But the Giants plan to find out what Scutaro has left, and soon. The veteran infielder is scheduled to play nine innings for Triple-A Fresno on Thursday, and barring a setback with his chronic back injury, the Giants plan to activate him prior to Friday’s series opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
[RELATED: Scutaro plays six innings in Triple-A]
Giants GM Brian Sabean told Yahoo! SportsTalk Live that the team needs to find out what they have in Scutaro before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. That’s intelligence that will help gauge their need for a second baseman from the outside world for both now and next season, when Scutaro will be in the third and final year of his $20 million contract.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said there’s a “very strong possibility” Scutaro could return to the No. 2 spot in the lineup when he starts. The club is hopeful Scutaro can start multiple times a week, although his back will dictate just how often he can go out there.
“Once I sit down and talk with him, that’ll really let me know where he’s at,” Bochy said.
Scutaro is just 3-for-19 in six rehab games in the rookie-level Arizona League and the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. He hasn’t played a full nine innings yet. But according to scouting reports, Bochy said Scutaro hasn’t been tentative about diving for ground balls.
“He’s swinging free and easy and that’s what is important to us,” Bochy said. “He has the type of stroke where he doesn’t need a lot of at-bats. He’s eager to get here and help out.”
Backup catcher Hector Sanchez said he talks several times a week with Scutaro. He said Scutaro told him some days are a lot better than others, but he’s determined to grind through discomfort. Scutaro only played in one game this spring because multiple injections and other efforts to alleviate his back pain were ineffective for more than a day or two.
[RELATED: Scutaro goes 0-for-2 in rehab game]
"It will be great to have him back," Sanchez said. "He helps everybody in here. I know he helps me."
Bochy said the club might wait until Saturday to activate Scutaro if he has some soreness coming out of Thursday night’s final rehab game for Fresno. Either way, he’s expected to beat center fielder Angel Pagan back to the active roster. Pagan traveled to Arizona following an epidural last weekend and is expected to resume baseball activities on Wednesday. He’s out till after the All-Star break, and potentially longer.
Bochy declined to speculate on a corresponding move for Scutaro. Joe Panik has an option but Brandon Hicks enters Wednesday riding an 0-for-21 streak with 11 strikeouts. Hicks is batting .099 in 71 at-bats over 29 games since his last home run May 23.
Pretty sure you could get a guy like that through waivers.