SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Ryan Vogelsong took a big step toward making his Cactus League debut when he faced live hitters in batting practice Tuesday. All went well as he threw about 40 pitches, and manager Bruce Bochy has him penciled in to pitch in a game Saturday.

"He's been eager to get out there," Bochy said. "He had a good day. He threw better today than his last outing when he faced some hitters. He's excited about getting out there. We are, too. He'll probably only go one inning, probably be the home game [vs. the Rockies] in that split squad. He's set to go now."

Vogelsong has been slowly working himself back after straining his back Feb. 7 while going through a regular offseason workout that included squatting on a balance ball while lifting 70-pound dumbbells. He's a projected member of the rotation along with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Barry Zito, but he has a tight timetable to prepare adequately and build arm strength in time for the season's April 6 opening.

"It'll be a tough call when Spring Training's over," Bochy said. "We'll have him up to around five innings, 70 to 90 pitches, somewhere in there. We'll have a decision to make. But barring any setbacks, hiccups, it's going to be real close whether he'll make that first start or not."

If all goes well, Vogelsong could make a second start four or five days after his first appearance and then slip into a regular routine with four days of rest between starts.

"We're being cautious more than anything," Bochy said. "With that back we don't want any setbacks. He's going to be pretty ramped up for that one inning. With the other guys, when we started them, they bounced back a day early. We'll see how he comes out of that, then I can tell you when he'll pitch."

Vogelsong was 13-7 in 30 games, 28 of which were starts, with the Giants last year. He had the fourth lowest ERA in the league at 2.71.

Theriot's focus split between second, short

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A rising question for the Giants as Spring Training rosters start to take shape is who will be shortstop Brandon Crawford's double-play partner at second base. With Freddy Sanchez's recovery from a June 2011 dislocated shoulder going slower than expected, the second-base job could end up being a position battle.

"I don't know what my role is," Ryan Theriot said Tuesday before a start at second. "It's tough to say. I know it's one of the best springs I've had from a physical standpoint. I couldn't ask for more."

Theriot implemented an entirely new offseason training program, implementing position-specific conditioning that has him feeling as good as he's felt in years. And though he tries to focus on both shortstop and second, Crawford's presence and Sanchez's absence have given him a shift of attention.

"It's hard when you're playing one to focus on the other that day," Theriot said. "If you can prepare for short and you end up playing second, you're good. If you prepare for second and you have to go to short, that's a different story. My goal is to always be ready to do either one -- kind of like last year, play short for 4 1/2 months and then move over to second. It's a little shock. It's different. But it's not that much different."

A veteran of seven big league seasons with a World Series ring from last year's campaign with the Cardinals, Theriot, 32, has the experience to give him an initial edge over a promising player like Emmanuel Burriss, 27. In addition to his on-the-field acumen, Theriot has gleaned valuable insight from a handful of managers who could all end up enshrined at Cooperstown.

• "Dusty [Baker, Cubs] was great," Theriot said. "Dusty was the ultimate players' manager. He was very good to his players. He expected a lot, but he was quick to give you a compliment."

• "Lou [Piniella, Cubs] was a little bit more to himself when it came to stuff like that, but he was the most intense guy I've ever been around in my life, really get you prepared for a game. We'd really feed off his intensity and his desire to win. I learned a lot from Lou."

• "Joe Torre when I was in L.A. That's obvious. I was only there for two months, but that was great."

• "And then last year with Tony [La Russa, Cardinals], there's not a manager more prepared. I think everybody will agree with me on that one. Any situation that could possibly come up, Tony was ready for it, and in turn he'd have us ready for it as players."

• "I haven't been around [Giants manager Bruce] Bochy much from a game standpoint. Everything's different in Spring Training games than the regular season, not only for us as players but the way the game's managed. I'm looking forward to it."

Worth noting

• Matt Cain made a Minor League start against Triple-A players from the A's on Monday. He pitched five innings of shutout ball, striking out four while walking none. The Giants' top three starters have gone three successive starts without yielding a walk, including Tim Lincecum's six innings against Oakland on Saturday, Madison Bumgarner's five innings against the Mariners on Sunday, and Cain's five in Triple-A on Monday.

• Freddy Sanchez was written in as an extra on the bench for Tuesday's tilt vs. the D-backs. Presumably he was there as a pinch-hitter, since Bochy has not given him the green light to play in the field yet as Sanchez continues his recovery from a dislocated shoulder he suffered last June.

Sanchez indicated he would not be on the bench Tuesday, and Bochy said Sanchez would not take infield Tuesday, backing up a potential appearance in the field by at least a day. A subsequent lineup card did not include his name among the extras.

"He's going to play catch tomorrow," Bochy said after Tuesday's 4-3 loss to Arizona. "Possibly the next day [he'll take infield] if all goes well."

Bochy has previously said that he'd put Sanchez in a game at second the day after he takes infield without issue.