SAN FRANCISCO -- Before Angel Pagan went down in late May with a strained left hamstring that required surgery, manager Bruce Bochy could find his speedy leadoff hitter coming through in the clutch and kickstarting an offense that couldn't necessarily score the most, but at least enough.
Now, Pagan exists only in Bochy's phone, through text messages from him updating his recovery.
Bochy got another one a couple of days ago: Pagan told him he's doing well in Arizona, that the targeted start for a return to the Giants is still early September or "in that area." The exact date for the start of a rehab assignment will come "pretty soon," Bochy said.
The Giants are balancing trying to get Pagan some action, if possible, to increase his post-surgery confidence with not rushing his return considering where they are in the standings.
"I think it's important he plays," Bochy said. "For him this is a major surgery. I'd like for him to go into the winter feeling comfortable and good about the surgery and just going into the next season knowing that knee is fine. It takes away any doubts that could creep in when you have surgery like that. But on the other end, he's not going to play unless we think he's 100 percent. He is a guy who will take the full rehab. We're not going to rush him up if there's no need to. I think we're all in agreement for that. We have to be convinced that he's ready to play before we even think about it."
Bochy reiterated how Pagan's absence in the leadoff spot has stung. Giants leadoff batters have combined to hit .116 with eight runs scored since the All-Star break.
"I think it shows you how important that leadoff guy is," Bochy said. "This isn't to make any excuses, but I do think we miss him more than we even thought -- his presence plus his ability to come through in the clutch."
Willie Bans is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.