Giants targeting Friday for Scutaro's return

Giants targeting Friday for Scutaro's return

SAN FRANCISCO -- Mired in a month-long slump, the Giants could use a boost. It appears one will arrive Friday.

That's when second baseman Marco Scutaro is slated to return to the club. He'll be evaluated Friday and the hope/plan is for the 38-year-old to be activated before Friday night's game against Arizona. Scutaro (lower back strain) had an off-day Wednesday but is scheduled to play nine innings for Triple-A Fresno on Thursday.

If all goes well, Scutaro will make his 2014 Major League debut Friday. There's a chance the return will have to wait until Saturday, but Friday is the new target date. He'll likely be back in his traditional two-hole spot, too. Manager Bruce Bochy said there's a "very strong possibility of that" when asked about Scutaro batting second. Bochy said Scutaro is optimistic that he can play with more regularity than the original workload of two or three starts per week they had envisioned.

Bochy isn't concerned about Scutaro's .158 average (3-for-19) in eight rehab games between the Rookie-level Arizona Giants and Fresno.

"He feels pretty comfortable," Bochy said. "From looking at the reports, he's swinging free and easy, and that's what's important to us. He's got the type of stroke where I don't think he needs lots of at-bats, but he'll be honest with us when he gets here Friday."

Bochy said he's had discussions internally with general manager Brian Sabean regarding the corresponding move to make room for Scutaro's return, but those conversations will stay between manager and general manager for now. Joe Panik could be sent back to Triple-A, or the Giants can opt for Panik to stay and learn under Scutaro's tutelage, which would likely result in designating Brandon Hicks for assignment.

As for Angel Pagan, Bochy said his injured leadoff hitter flew to Arizona on Wednesday and will resume baseball activities as part of his rehab Thursday. The plan remains for Pagan to return shortly after next week's All-Star break.

Chris Haft is a reporter for Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. Ryan Hood is an associate reporter for Follow him on Twitter @ryanhood19. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.