SAN FRANCISCO – Bruce Bochy’s lineup for Monday’s series opener against the San Diego Padres includes just three Giants who started on Opening Day in Los Angeles.
But the Giants’ manager said ‘we’re making progress’ when it comes to the plethora of injured players currently on the shelf.
Marco Scutaro, batting .332 before a hit-by-pitch in Pittsburgh left him with a “mallet” pinkie finger, has a shot at starting Tuesday, according to Bochy.
“Marco is doing a lot better,” Bochy said. “That’s how close he is.”
Bochy said Scutaro has been taking batting practice and he was seen fielding grounders with apparent ease before Monday’s game.
Scutaro has been fitted for a custom orthotic and still has a visible cut on his pinkie.
“You have to keep it like that for six weeks,” Scutaro said. “It’s kind of annoying wearing that thing for so many weeks.”
Despite the annoyance, Scutaro insists that he doesn’t want to spend any time on the disabled list to help the injury fully heal.
“There wasn’t anything broken,” Scutaro said. “If it was broken, that would be a different story.”
Like with Scutaro, the Giants were concerned that Pablo Sandoval was dealing with a fracture. Instead, Sandoval’s left foot is merely strained and Bochy believes he could start a rehab assignment with the Single-A San Jose Giants as soon as Friday.
According to Manolo Hernandez (@beisbolporgotas), Sandoval played catch and took batting practice Monday without wearing a protective boot for the first time since June 8, his last game action before being placed on the disabled list.
Sandoval is eligible to return to the Giants on June 24 for the opener of a three-game series against the Dodgers in Los Angeles and is optimistic he will be ready. His manager shares the same faith.
“We expect him to be ready,” Bochy said. “He’s doing really well right now.”
According to Bochy, Angel Pagan is even closer to returning than Sandoval. Pagan has missed 17 games since his walk-off inside-the-park home run on May 25.
Pagan ran behind the edge of the infield dirt for 20 minutes Monday, though he was not reaching a full sprint.
Bochy said that Pagan will run the bases Tuesday before heading out on a two-to-three game rehab assignment if his strained left hamstring responds well.
Reliever Santiago Casilla continues to recover from surgery on his right knee faster than expected. Bochy said the right-hander could start throwing off a mound within a week.
Lastly, Ryan Vogelsong expects to have some pins removed from his fractured right hand Tuesday. Bochy said that it’s too soon to set a timetable for his return to the rotation, but that taking out two of the five pins will help the Giants’ training staff introduce Vogelsong to a more vigorous rehab regimen.
“It just helps accelerate the healing process and enables him to do a little bit more with the hand,” Bochy said.
After the Giants went 4-5 against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves in their longest road swing of the season so far, Bochy offered his take on the trip.
“It was a little disappointing because we didn’t at least play .500 or over,” Bochy said. “But we were close. A couple games got away from us. That shows you what a fine line this game is. We didn’t hold on in one game in Arizona with a one-run lead there and again in Atlanta, but I like the improvement that we did show on the road against good ballclubs.”
Bochy’s Giants enter Monday’s game 1.5 games out of first place with a run differential of -8.
“For us to be where we’re at, I’ll be honest, I think we’re fortunate,” Bochy said. “This is a balanced division. Teams are beating up on each other. For us not to be hitting our stride yet and dealing with some things that we’re dealing with, we’ll have to look at where we’re at as we’re fortunate. We’ve got to pick up our play.”
Brandon Crawford is 0-for-8 with three strikeouts in seven career games as the No. 3 hitter. So why did Bochy pencil him into the three-hole Monday?
“Crawford asked me the same thing,” Bochy said. “I just said, ‘Maybe I got into the wine a little too much last night.’ No, he’s been doing a good job. His numbers are good against right-handers and I wanted to keep [Hunter] Pence in the four-hole. With he and [Tony] Abreu swinging the bat fairly well, I left him at the top of the order.”