Bochy, Sabean expect lineup consistency with Sandoval back

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Bochy, Sabean expect lineup consistency with Sandoval back

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.

Giants lineup: Posey catching, Nunez at third base against Braves

Giants lineup: Posey catching, Nunez at third base against Braves

The Giants look to win two straight against the Braves and Bruce Bochy has made a few changes to the lineup Sunday.

Atlanta Braves (21-26)

1. Ender Inciarte (L) CF
2. Brandon Phillips (R) 2B
3. Nick Markakis (L) RF
4. Matt Kemp (R) LF
5. Matt Adams (L) 1B
6. Kurt Suzuki (R) C
7. Rio Ruiz (L) 3B
8. Dansby Swanson (R) SS
9. R.A. Dickey (R) P

San Francisco Giants (21-30)

1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Eduardo Nunez (R) 3B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Justin Ruggiano (R) RF
7. Joe Panik (L) 2B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) LF
9. Johnny Cueto (R) P

Belt relates to Arroyo's benching in slump: 'It doesn’t need to be bad thing'

Belt relates to Arroyo's benching in slump: 'It doesn’t need to be bad thing'

SAN FRANCISCO — At this point Bruce Bochy has had plenty of experience working young infielders into his everyday lineup, so he knew exactly which move to turn to when Christian Arroyo dropped into a wicked slump.

With Arroyo hitless in his last 21 at-bats, Bochy sat him Saturday night against the Braves. His plans could always change, of course, but Bochy said he planned to sit Arroyo at least one more game. It’s a move he used most notably in 2013 to help Brandon Belt get back on track.

Belt was in a 1-for-19 rut when Bochy kept him out of the starting lineup for an entire series in Philadelphia. He had just one pinch-hit appearance, but he returned for the opener of the next series in Tampa Bay, notching three hits and a homer. Belt batted .346 the rest of the way.

Asked about that experience and Arroyo's current one, Belt at first made a different point.

“Arroyo has actually been really good for us,” he said. “That road trip we just had, we faced a lot of really good pitchers. There’s nothing for him to hang his head about.”

Belt has actually had several “clear your head” breaks over the years.

“It allows you to reset a little, and with the pressure, you can release that a little bit,” he said. “For me (in 2013) it forced me to make (mechanical) changes and when you have time off you see everything more clearly. You can make changes or go back to something that was working for you before. He shouldn’t look at this as a timeout. It doesn’t need to be a bad thing. You can make adjustments and it can be a good thing.”

Bochy originally planned to rest Arroyo on Thursday in Chicago, but Eduardo Nuñez’s hamstring needed a day. Arroyo started at second Friday against a lefty but got the full night off Saturday. With Conor Gillaspie sidelined for several more days by a tight back and Hunter Pence out the rest of the homestand, there's time for the Giants to contemplate what they want to do going forward.

“We’ll get this sorted out,” Bochy said. “We’ve (worked) him pretty hard. This is to give him a chance to catch his breath, get his mind right, and work on some things.”