Bochy, Sabean expect lineup consistency with Sandoval back

Bochy, Sabean expect lineup consistency with Sandoval back
August 15, 2012, 1:09 am
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SAN FRANCISCO Pablo Sandoval left the Giants game againstthe San Diego Padres on July 24 with a strained left hamstring, but watched histeammates pull off a win for a 2.5-game lead in the National League West. Aftermissing 18 games, Sandoval returns to a club now tied for the division leadwith the Los Angeles Dodgers.
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Its good to have him back, Giants manager Bruce Bochysaid. When you lose your big guy, I guess you hope you hold ground until hegets back and I think weve done a pretty good job of that and now we have himback in the lineup with Hunter Pence. It just makes us that much betteroffensively.Sandoval saw his first action in Mondays ugly 14-2 loss toopen a three-game series with the MLB-leading Washington Nationals. After anunsuccessful pinch-hit appearance late in Mondays game, Sandoval gets hisfirst chance to impact a new-look starting lineup that includes Pence.Before his brief appearance Monday, Sandoval played in three rehab games withthe Single-A San Jose Giants. He went 3-for-10 with a double, but wasnt runningat 100 effort. As far as his timing, thats why we wanted him to go downand get a few at-bats, Bochy said. Thats what youre trying to do when theygo to rehab and play two or three games, so you dont have the break-in periodor that three-to-four game period where theyre trying to get their timing. Heshould be fine.Bochy is confident that Sandovals hamstring will hold up to the pressure of aMajor League Baseball game, but he still isnt ready to declare his youngslugger 100 healthy.Id say 90-95, Bochy said. It takes a little while toget this thing completely gone. At the same time, hes playable. Players playlike this.Giants general manager Brian Sabean told Comcast SportsNets Jim Kozimor onChronicle Live Tuesday that he expects Sandoval to be his old self after theteams next road trip."Currently the plan isto play him the next two days, Sabean said. We get the off day on Thursdayand evaluate how we'll be able to play him on the road trip. He should be 100percent by that time. WithSandoval now back to being a staple in the middle of the Giants lineup, itleaves Bochy with a daily debate about who to start at second base. Tuesday,Marco Scutaro got the call, but Bochy said he will start Ryan Theriot at secondWednesday and leave Scutaro on the bench. Ileave that up to Boch, as we always do, Sabean said. Scutaro has done a nicejob and so has Theriot so that's a nice problem. Scutaro can also playshortstop. So we have a lot more depth and versatility, which you need.Otherthan the flexibility at second base, Bochy said he expects to use a similarlineup to the one he penciled in Tuesday moving forward. That lineup includesSandoval batting ahead of Pence and behind Melky Cabrera and Buster Posey.Id say this is probably pretty close to what well haveout there for the most part, Bochy said.Sabean is in agreement:Ithink it'll go down, pretty much from here on in, the way Bochy set it up(Tuesday), Sabean said.Bochy has said previously that he would not push Sandoval to play first base inthe near future, but wanted to leave that option open eventually. On ChronicleLive Tuesday, Sabean implied that eventually may mean next season.He willplay third base primarily, Sabean said. I think you'll probably see him therethe rest of the year. Hit fifth, at least in tonight's lineup, that's the waywe'll go.