Pence nearing start of rehab assignment

Pence nearing start of rehab assignment

SAN FRANCISCO -- Manager Bruce Bochy said Sunday the Giants are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to Hunter Pence's return from the disabled list.

Bochy said Pence, who underwent surgery on his right hamstring June 9, will begin a Minor League rehabilitation assignment in about a week and could be available for the Giants' first homestand following the All-Star break starting July 25.

On July 2, Pence took part in batting practice for the first time since having surgery and is experiencing progress as far as running, too. Pence is hitting .298 with 36 RBIs and seven home runs in 50 games this year. He hasn't played in a game since June 1.

In addition, Joe Panik (concussion) is nearing his return from the DL. Bochy said the Giants second baseman has to get cleared this week and could be ready to return by the time the club is in Boston on July 19 for its series with the Rex Sox.

"Panik's doing well," said Bochy. "We've really increased his baseball activities."

Regardless, the Giants will enter the All-Star break with the most wins in the Majors, and Bochy attributes much of that to the way the injury replacements have performed.

It has allowed Bochy and the organization to be patient with players like Pence, Panik and Matt Duffy during their recovery.

"It's been fun to see how these guys have replaced our injured players and really fill a void and play good baseball," Bochy said.

Duffy will resume running Monday, but the Giants are being careful with their third baseman after he experienced a mild setback in his recovery from a left Achilles strain.

"Just had to back off a little bit because he still feels it," Bochy said.

• The Giants activated Kelby Tomlinson from the disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A Sacramento on Sunday night. Tomlinson was placed on the 15-day DL on June 10 with a sprained left thumb. He's batted .289 in 35 games as a Giant this season.

Sergio Romo has allowed two hits and struck out three batters in 2 1/3 innings since returning from the DL on Monday. Romo pitched on back-to-back days for the first time since April in the Giants' first two games against the D-backs this weekend.

"We worked him pretty good in the Minors so when he came up we could use him like we normally would," said Bochy.

Justin Wise is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.