Bochy flips Shark, Cueto for Padres series

Bochy flips Shark, Cueto for Padres series

SAN DIEGO -- Breaking up the Major Leagues' best one-two starting-pitching combination might seem self-defeating, but the Giants believe they're serving their best interests by separating Madison Bumgarner from Johnny Cueto.

Bumgarner (10-4, 1.94 ERA) and Cueto (13-1, 2.47) have combined for a 23-5 record and 2.21 average ERA. But Cueto threw 32 pitches as the National League's starter in Tuesday's All-Star Game presented by MasterCard, prompting manager Bruce Bochy to give him extra rest by pushing him back to Sunday. Bumgarner will start Friday's second-half opener against San Diego.

Bochy saw no need for fuss, especially with his No. 3 starter, right-hander Jeff Samardzija (9-5, 3.91), moving into the No. 2 spot.

"We're fine with the way it's set up right now," Bochy said on Thursday of the Bumgarner-Samardzija-Cueto sequence.

Samardzija cited San Francisco's plethora of scheduled off-days -- four in August, for instance -- as potential sources of flexibility.

"You can always adjust it back if you have to," Samardzija said.

Sequence, said Samardzija, shouldn't make a significant difference.

"We're all prepared and ready to go at any time," he said. "You just stick to what you do two days before a start, three days before a start."

Even so, he sees the advantages of following Cueto in the rotation.

"I love pitching behind Johnny, because we do throw some similar pitches," he said. "He uses his changeup a little bit more than I do, but we also sink and cut and throw a slider."

Jake Peavy and, health permitting, Matt Cain, will complete the rotation by facing Boston on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. The Giants will know more about Cain's status after he faces Lancaster on Friday in a Minor League rehab outing with the Giants' Class A Advanced San Jose club.

• Right fielder Hunter Pence has recovered nicely from his strained right hamstring and could rejoin the lineup during the July 25-27 series against Cincinnati, Bochy indicated.

Bochy acknowledged that he would want Pence to spend a week tuning up his skills on a rehab assignment. Thus, Pence could begin that stint as early as this weekend.

The Giants, who worked out at Petco Park on Thursday before resuming their schedule against the Padres on Friday, have a 24-11 record since Pence was sidelined.

• Second baseman Joe Panik (concussion) could begin a rehab assignment in the next couple of days and may return to the lineup during this three-city, eight-game trip.

"It's really close, but there are a few final hurdles I have to clear," said Panik, who can perform all baseball-related activities.

• As All-Star Game participants, Cueto and catcher Buster Posey accepted the option of skipping Thursday's workout. Bumgarner and first baseman Brandon Belt, San Francisco's other All-Star representatives, participated.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for since 2007. 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.