SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Monday that Brad Penny is close to returning to Major League form and could be an option to join the Giants' pitching staff in the coming days.

The Giants signed Penny to a Minor League contract in May, and Penny has been pitching for the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies after time at extended spring training and taking time off for a shoulder issue. Penny has a loose out clause in his contract in which the Giants would release Penny if he felt he was ready to be called up but the Giants did not.

"We signed him to come up here and help us," Bochy said. "We'll see how it goes. I talked to Brad yesterday, and he said he feels good. He's throwing the ball fairly well. He'll have a day or two off, then one more outing, and then we're going to have to make a call."

Penny has a 7.11 ERA in six appearances for Fresno, but has three scoreless innings in his last two appearances. The longtime starter has been appearing as a reliever and looked to be an option to join the Giants' bullpen, though Bochy said he would like to stretch Penny out to see if he could be available for a role as a long reliever or a spot starter.

"We'd like to stretch him out a little bit," Bochy said. "It'll certainly keep options open. You never know what can happen."

Penny could be especially valuable in a spot start or even rotation role should starters Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito continue to struggle and the Giants feel the need to skip a turn in the rotation.

Huff nearing possible Minor League rehab

SAN FRANCISCO -- Aubrey Huff returned to the Giants before Monday's game against the Dodgers, and manager Bruce Bochy said the 35-year-old Huff will work out in the weight room and is close to returning to the team.

Huff has been sidelined since Matt Cain's June 13 perfect game, when Huff sprained his right knee when he fell during postgame celebrations.

"I talked to him a little bit today, and he's doing a lot better," Bochy said. "He's getting close, and he's able to do some stuff now. He's making a lot of improvement."

Counting Monday's game, Huff has missed 11 games since being placed on the disabled list with the knee injury, and Bochy said a Minor League rehab assignment will be likely.

"We really haven't talked about it, but I do think it'll be a good idea for him because he's missed so much time," Bochy said. "That's something Aubrey and I need to talk about."

Huff, who was also on the DL earlier this season with anxiety disorder, is batting .155 this season in 58 at-bats with only four extra-base hits and five RBIs, but Bochy said Huff will continue to have a role as a left-handed bat off the bench.

"That's the plan right now -- have him available for the occasional start, have him come off the bench and bring experience," Bochy said. "Being a [former] DH gives him experience coming off the bench and being a pinch-hitter. It also gives us depth, and if something happens where he's swinging well, we'll have another proven bat to put in the lineup."

Giants give Posey rest in opener vs. Dodgers

SAN FRANCISCO -- Down-the-road considerations trumped short-term benefits for Giants manager Bruce Bochy on Monday, with the skipper sitting Buster Posey in the series opener against the Dodgers.

Hector Sanchez started at catcher Monday to handle starter Barry Zito as he has done all season.

"I just talked to him and he's doing fine," Bochy said of Posey. "I know he feels it a little bit; he's honest. He doesn't want to sit, but at the same time, he knows it'll be better for him to occasionally get [time off] a little bit."

Bochy had said over the weekend that he was planning on sitting Posey on Monday, but said after Sunday's 4-2 loss to the A's that Posey could get the start. Even with the division-leading Dodgers in town, valuing Posey's durability and health was the deciding factor to sit Posey and start Sanchez.

"To make a move like this, you have to remember where you're at -- it's June," Bochy said. "You don't ever want to wear a player down to the point where it takes a few days to get a player back."

Sanchez has backed up Posey and acted as Zito's personal catcher, but Bochy said that giving Posey the game off was behind his thought process more so than keeping the Sanchez-Zito duo together.

"I was close to catching Buster," Bochy said. "That's not as big of a factor as Buster needing a day, more so than Sanchez catching Zito. I even thought about changing that up because Barry's had a few tough starts, [try to] break that up a little bit."