Giants face tough choice when Peavy returns

Heston, Vogelsong, Hudson among candidates who could lose rotation spot

Giants face tough choice when Peavy returns

LOS ANGELES -- As the time to replace a starting pitcher with Jake Peavy grows closer, Giants manager Bruce Bochy admitted the obvious: This won't be an easy decision.

Cast your Esurance All-Star ballot for #ASGWorthy players

"We're going to have to get creative," Bochy said Saturday.

Matt Cain, who was scheduled to make an injury rehabilitation start later Saturday for Triple-A Sacramento, also is edging toward rejoining the rotation. However, Cain's progress is slightly behind Peavy's. In fact, Bochy began saying recently that Peavy has been deemed physically ready to start for the Giants.

Madison Bumgarner is the only existing starter who unquestionably will remain in the rotation. Signals are unclear regarding the others.

Optioning rookie right-hander Chris Heston to Sacramento would be the easiest choice, since the Giants wouldn't run the risk of losing any players through waivers. But Heston actually is tied with Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum for the club lead in wins (seven).

Ryan Vogelsong (5-5, 4.38 ERA) and Tim Hudson (4-6, 4.65 entering Saturday) have performed equally. Vogelsong, who has filled various roles during his career, might be more capable of handling a change in responsibilities than Hudson, who has been exclusively a starter.

Bochy expressed his belief that neither Vogelsong nor Hudson has pitched while dwelling on trying to save his job.

"I don't think they need that incentive or motivation," Bochy said.

• Bochy said the Giants will "slow-play" Hunter Pence's recovery from left wrist tendinitis to make sure the right fielder heals completely. Bochy refused to commit to a timetable for Pence's return. But when asked whether Pence could remain on the disabled list through the mid-July All-Star break, Bochy said, "I wouldn't rule that out." Bochy pointed out that Pence lately has focused more on conditioning than on baseball-related activities.

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