Pence ramps up rehab work, starts using real bat

Bochy sides with 3B coach Kelly on disputed non-interference call

Pence ramps up rehab work, starts using real bat

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday that right fielder Hunter Pence recently has increased his baseball-related activity, reflecting his quicker pace of recovery from his fractured left forearm.

Though Pence isn't expected to be ready to play on May 1, which initially was mentioned as the most optimistic target date for his return, he has begun using his own bat instead of a Wiffle-ball bat while hitting balls off a tee.

"That's a really good sign," Bochy said.

Pence will accompany the Giants on their trip to Colorado and Los Angeles, which is another indication of his improving condition.

• Bochy absolved third-base coach Roberto Kelly from any blame for the incident during Wednesday night's ninth inning, when Kelly ran into Gregor Blanco as the pinch-runner rounded the bag. This ran the risk of Blanco being called out due to Kelly's interference, a ruling that Dodgers manager Don Mattingly urged umpires to make.

Belt's single in 9th

"There isn't a third-base coach that hasn't happened to, trust me," Bochy said, noting Kelly's widely respected predecessor, Tim Flannery, once collided with Steve Finley as the latter headed for home plate.

"It's easy for me to say, because it went my way, but it was a great no-call," Bochy said, insisting that Kelly was in no way trying to steer Blanco. "Probably the best thing Roberto did was keep his arms up," Bochy said.

• Surviving with a seven-man bullpen at Denver's Coors Field, a noted graveyard for pitchers, will require the starters to try to work deeper into ballgames. "It's easy to go through your bullpen," said Bochy, whose club begins a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies on Friday.

• Bochy indicated that Jake Peavy, who's on the 15-day disabled list with a strained lower back, won't be rushed to rejoin the starting rotation. Bochy said he spoke at length with the right-hander, whose turn to pitch would have been Thursday.

• The Washington state House of Representatives passed a resolution honoring Giants left-hander Jeremy Affeldt for his humanitarian deeds. Affeldt, a resident of Spokane, Wash., has devoted considerable time to fighting hunger domestically and worldwide, as well as working to stop human trafficking.

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.