SAN FRANCISCO -- With the injuries to key Giants players and a cross-country flight that had players arriving home around 4:30 a.m. this morning, it has come to this: Brandon Crawford is batting third tonight against the San Diego Padres for the first time in his major-league career.
"Crawford asked me (why)," manager Bruce Bochy said. "I just said maybe getting into the wine too much last night."
Kidding aside, Crawford is hitting .326 over his last 36 games and the Giants are banged up, though Bochy gave a promising rundown of injury updates that indicated the Giants could be getting back to full strength by the end of the week.
For starters, Marco Scutaro's finger is feeling "much better," and Scutaro could play as soon as tomorrow, both Bochy and Scutaro said. Scutaro has taken batting practice and played catch, and the question now is how the finger will respond to game action, like if he has to dive for a ball or tag out a runner. Still, Scutaro said swelling in the finger is going down. He's still wearing a small splint.
"One of these games soon - tomorrow, next day, I don't know," he said. "We'll see."
Pablo Sandoval (left foot strain) could start a rehab assignment as soon as Friday in San Jose, Bochy said, and if all goes well the Giants are targeting his return for the series opener against the Dodgers on June 24.
Bochy said he believes Angel Pagan (hamstring) could also be back by that day, or possibly sooner. Pagan is scheduled to run the bases tomorrow and if all goes well will likely go on a rehab assignment for two or three games.
"I think Angel probably is a little bit ahead of Pablo," Bochy said. "He's close."
Bochy also said Santiago Casilla (right knee) is "doing real well" and could start throwing off a mound within a week. Ryan Vogelsong, meanwhile, is scheduled to see doctors tomorrow and potentially get two of the five pins taken out of his left pinkie.
Meanwhile, Buster Posey and Andres Torres are both getting the night off after a long road trip and long flight. Who does that leave, you ask? Here's the Giants lineup:
And the Padres lineup that Zito will face:
Crawford, by the way, said he thinks he last batted third in the Arizona Fall League in 2011, not counting a split-squad game this spring where he hit third in a Giants lineup otherwise made up mostly of minor-leaguers. The only two spots he hasn't hit now: leadoff and cleanup.
"There's still a whole half of a season left," he said.
-- Matt Kawahara