SAN FRANCISCO -- Pablo Sandoval was out early this afternoon getting in some work with hitting coach Hensley Meulens and with manager Bruce Bochy looking on. Bochy said Sandoval has been over-striding on swings so the work today was trying to "quiet things down."
"He's just been over-striding, getting out there a little too fast, and that's kept him from taking the swing that he normally does," Bochy said.
Sandoval is 3-for-31 over his last eight games and is bumped down to sixth in the Giants' lineup tonight against the Baltimore Orioles. Unlike Brandon Belt, who was given a few days off while the Giants were in Philadelphia to digest and work on some mechanical changes to his swing, Sandoval is staying in the lineup because his issue is just trying to get back to "his normal rhythm, stride, timing," Bochy said.
That means Brandon Belt, who made his first career start batting cleanup yesterday with Buster Posey out, is hitting third tonight ahead of Posey. It's Belt's third major-league start in the No. 3 spot -- and it makes for consecutive Brandons with Brandon Crawford hitting second. Here's the full lineup:
And the Orioles lineup against Vogelsong, making his return to the rotation tonight a little less than three months after fracturing the pinkie finger on his pitching hand:
* Vogelsong makes his ninth start of the season and first since May 20, when he was hit by an inside pitch from the Nationals' Craig Stammen and broke his finger. Vogelsong was 2-4 with a 7.19 ERA at that point, having allowed 11 home runs in 46 1/3 innings, but he was having his best start of the year (five shutout innings) when he got hurt.
"It's good to have him back," Bochy said. "The guys are excited to have him back and he is very excited to be back pitching in a game.
"Particularly when you have your struggles there and then you feel like you've found it, have your best game of the year and get hurt, you're pretty eager to get back on the mound and kind of see where you're at."
Vogelsong has pitched against the Orioles once before -- in 2005, in a relief appearance for the Pirates. A lot of water under the bridge since then.
* The Giants optioned Jean Machi back to Triple-A Fresno to clear a roster spot for Vogelsong. Bochy said Guillermo Moscoso could fill the role vacated by Machi, if the Giants need a right-hander out of the bullpen earlier than they'd like to use Sandy Rosario or Santiago Casilla. Having been stretched out as a starter, Moscoso can also pitch in long relief.
* Tony Abreu (left knee bursitis) was out running bases before batting practice and will likely start a rehab assignment Sunday, going to Fresno when the Giants leave for their road trip that begins in Washington D.C.
* Bochy said he liked the at-bats given by Marco Scutaro and Brandon Crawford in the 1-2 spots yesterday against the Brewers (little wonder -- they were a combined 6-for-9), so that's how it looks again today. Crawford in particular is showing he can hit higher than eighth in the lineup -- in 11 starts hitting second this season, he's 12-for-38 (.316) with a .426 on-base percentage.
* The Giants draw a tough task in the opener in Baltimore right-hander Chris Tillman, who is 10-1 with a 3.54 ERA in his last 11 starts. No Orioles pitcher has won 15 games since Erik Bedard in 2006.
Vogelsong, meanwhile, will have to deal with major-league home run leader Chris Davis, who has killed National League pitching this year. He's 20-for-41 (.488) in interleague play. If you're wondering, the Orioles' notes point out the only player ever to hit .500 or better in interleague play with a minimum of 35 plate appearances was Joe Randa, who hit .508 for the Royals in 1999.
-- Matt Kawahara