SAN FRANCISCO -- With Aubrey Huff nursing a tight lower back and Brandon Belt having rediscovered his swing for Triple-A Fresno, the Giants decided to call up their top hitting prospect Tuesday.
Belt has endured a roller-coaster season since starting at first base on Opening Day. He was optioned in April, recalled the last week of May, put on the disabled list the first week of June, sent to Triple-A the first week of July and, finally, promoted again Tuesday. He was in the starting lineup, batting sixth and playing first base, against the Dodgers on Tuesday night.
"I would say a little bit disappointed. I know that happens in the game," Belt said of returning to Fresno. "At this point it just comes from everybody wanting to be up here, and I'm the same way -- I wanted to be up here. It didn't work out for me at that time, but I knew that if I went down and I played well, the odds would be in my favor to get back up here."
Huff said his injury isn't serious, but his back has been feeling a little sore when he bends at the waist, reaching the point where he needed a few days off. Huff made it clear the tightness wasn't responsible for his struggles at the plate, and it doesn't hurt when he twists to hit.
Manager Bruce Bochy didn't want to move Pablo Sandoval from third base, where he has been playing outstanding defense lately. So the club decided to bring back Belt. Miguel Tejada was placed on the disabled list with a lower abdominal strain to make room for Belt.
"This enables me to give [Huff] a few more days off and maybe late in the game, just get him off his legs -- similar to what we did last year," Bochy said. "He's been out there grinding pretty hard. I don't want to break Aubrey down, and Belt's been doing a nice job down there."
The left-handed-hitting Belt has struggled in the Majors this season, batting .211 with a .609 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). Just when it seemed like he was making progress, Belt suffered a hairline fracture in his left wrist and had to go to the disabled list. The 22-year-old first baseman/outfielder said he immediately felt comfortable hitting in the cage, but it took about a week to see the results on the field.
He did just that, hitting .324 with seven home runs, 29 RBIs and a 1.011 OPS in 43 games for Fresno -- even being named the Pacific Coast League Player of the Week. But Belt went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts Monday night in his last Triple-A game.
"He's probably going, 'Hey, I strike out four times and get called up. That's not bad.' It happens," Bochy said. "But overall, he's been swinging well. Again, we felt we needed some help there at first to give Aubrey a little break."
Belt said he split his time evenly between the outfield and first base with the Grizzlies, and he will play wherever Bochy puts him. Just in case, Belt made sure to bring all his gloves to San Francisco with him.
When Huff is healthy again, Bochy said, the veteran will remain the starting first baseman. But Huff, knowing that Bochy is entitled to play the hot hand given the Giants' offensive woes, said he would understand if Belt stayed in the lineup.
"If he goes out there these next three days and gets five hits a game, I would expect him to play. That's just the way this game is and the way this team is built," Huff said. "Whoever's hitting gets to play."
Adam Berry is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.