Bochy believes Pence can still return in April

Bochy believes Pence can still return in April

SAN DIEGO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Friday that the possibility of right fielder Hunter Pence returning to the lineup during April remains intact.

When a reporter suggested to Bochy that Pence might not play for the Giants this month, he said, "I wouldn't make that bet. It's going to be close."

Bochy added that he'll have a better grasp on Pence's playing status after Monday, when team physicians will re-examine his fractured left forearm. Pence sustained the injury when he was hit by a pitch during a March 5 Cactus League game.

Belt's injury

Brandon Belt took batting practice and did some light running, and Bochy indicated that he could use the first baseman as a pinch-hitter if he were desperately needed.

"He's doing a lot better than he was two days ago," Bochy said of Belt, who strained his right groin while pursuing a foul popup Tuesday at Arizona.

Bochy said that Belt possibly could start Sunday's series finale against the Padres, though it's more likely that he will return to the lineup for Monday's home opener against Colorado.

• With Belt sidelined, utility man Matt Duffy has diversified himself further by continuing to work out at first base. Bochy even hinted that Duffy could start at first base Saturday against San Diego. Bochy admitted that Duffy, a middle infielder who also can play third base, has been forced to absorb plenty of information in a relatively short time. "It's a crash course," Bochy said.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.