DENVER -- Pablo Sandoval has been one of the more productive bats in the middle of the Giants lineup over the last few years, boasting a .303 average in parts of five big league seasons.
He started the season on a tear, hitting .316 though May 2, when he went on the disabled list with a left hamate fracture. He returned to action in June, but slipped to .299 by July 24 and went back on the DL with a left hamstring strain. Since returning in August, he's gone 22-for-95 (.232) with three extra-base hits in 26 games and no homers in his last 35 games and 138 at-bats entering Tuesday.
"It's been a rough time for me, because I was out for two months with injuries," Sandoval said before Tuesday's second of three games with the Rockies. "It's tough when you start getting your rhythm and then you're out, getting back. It's a tough year. You have to keep your mindset, keep working hard, do your things out there."
Manager Bruce Bochy remains adamant about keeping Sandoval in the three-hole, where he'd been for 51 of his 88 starts through Tuesday.
"Pablo's a tough guy," Bochy said. "He wants to do something when he's up there. Sometimes you try a little too hard and start overswinging trying to hit it too far. He's got to shorten everything up -- including stride -- and keep his balance."
Bochy, hitting coach Hensley Meulens and senior advisor Joe Lefebvre talked with Sandoval following his 0-for-5 night at the plate in Monday's series opener, when he notably stranded the potential tying and winning run on second and third in the eighth inning as he popped to left to end a rally. With Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro consistently setting the table in front of him, Sandoval may be taking an overly aggressive approach at the plate.
"He gets a little anxious," Bochy observed, noting that there's nothing wrong with his swing or his power in batting practice. "He really just does it when [Pagan and Scutaro] are on base. I'm sure that has something to do with it."
Bochy and his coaching staff showed Sandoval video of his approach at the plate when he was going well, and Sandoval immediately recognized the differences, staying up late into the night to study the video.
"I went back to my room to see all the things I've been doing great last year -- hitting, doing defense, all that," Sandoval said. "I was doing that all night, I couldn't even go to sleep. Especially because [I stranded] a couple more runs [last night], and we lost the game because of that. That made me keep my mind in shape and refresh all the things I've been doing."
Pagan ties Giants' SF-era record for triples
DENVER -- Angel Pagan's sixth-inning triple to the right-center alley Tuesday gave the Giants center fielder a slice of the San Francisco record book as his 12th triple of the season tied him with Hall of Famer Willie Mays (1960) and Steve Finely (2006) for the most in a season since the Giants moved west in 1958.
"Those are names that are like legends," Pagan said after the Giants' 9-8 victory over the Rockies. "The way Willie's been to me -- I never saw him play, but my dad did, my father-in-law did, and I've seen a lot of highlights. Just like Roberto Clemente, I never saw him play, but the way he went about his business in baseball and the legacy that they left in the game is something that you really want to follow. Willie Mays is an example I'd like to follow and a person I'd like to have by my side all the time to learn about the game."
The triple also gave the Giants a pair of insurance runs -- one Pagan knocked in (and nearly caught on the basepaths) and one he scored on Marco Scutaro's sacrifice fly in the next at-bat -- to extend their lead over the Rockies to 8-5.
"That was big to add on and give us a little cushion, which we needed as you well saw," manager Bruce Bochy said. The runs helped the Giants hold on and edge the Rockies.
Pagan's triple also moved him past Starlin Castro, Dexter Fowler and Jose Reyes for most triples in the National League this season, but being beside Mays in the Giants' record book was clearly his highlight. The two Giants center fielders bonded at Spring Training this year when Mays sought him out and Pagan embraced the opportunity to glean what he could from one of the best to ever play the game.
"That's a good name to be right next to," Pagan said of Mays. "He's been kind of my mentor the whole year. I'm very happy to be able to meet him and talk about baseball, and now to tie his triple record -- that's something I will always remember."
Hensley returns to Giants' bullpen
DENVER -- The Giants got a little stronger Tuesday as reliever Clay Hensley was activated before the game with the Rockies, and manager Bruce Bochy indicated the right-hander will be used in much the same way he was used before going on the disabled list Aug. 27 with a right groin strain.
"He's going to help out in the sixth and seventh inning," Bochy said. "He'll be part of the mix, I'll say that. He feels good. He faced hitters not too long ago and he's been taking bullpens. I see him helping out in that role."
Hensley has been a key part of San Francisco's 'pen, making 54 appearances and posting a 4.37 ERA while establishing a 4-3 record with three saves as part of Giants' closer-by-committee corps.
Bochy's tone made it seem like he might be hesitant to immediately rely on Hensley for key outs as he has in the past. Before hitting the DL, Hensley posted an 11.81 ERA in his last seven relief appearances, but he has held left-handers to a .197 (13-for-66) average and stifled opponents to the tune of a .214 (12-for-56) average with runners in scoring position.
In other health news, Xavier Nady continues to make progress in his recovery from a left hamstring strain suffered last Wednesday. He was available to pinch-hit, and Bochy hopes to see him take the field in Arizona, when the Giants will face three lefties in a row.
"He's got to be pretty close to full speed, particularly in this outfield," Bochy said of his criteria for starting the right-handed hitter. "Where he's at now, his target date is still Arizona. He should be able to go."
The Giants face a fourth consecutive southpaw in Wednesday's series finale in Colorado when Jeff Francis climbs the hill, and Bochy indicated Brandon Belt was a "maybe" for a left-field start.
Scutaro a quality addition for Giants
DENVER -- Marco Scutaro has been able to answer multiple questions for the Giants since coming over in a July 28 trade with the Rockies.
He's been a solid starter at second base and has hit safely in 33 of 42 games at a .329 clip (56-for-170) since donning a Giants uniform.
"He's a contact guy, he knows how to play the game, and he made good contact there -- he just hit it at the first baseman," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Scutaro's clutch at-bat with men on second and third in the eighth inning Monday night. "That's bad luck. But we had the right guy up there. He put good wood on the ball and just happened to hit it in the wrong spot there. He's the type of hitter you like up there in that situation, because he knows what he's doing, he knows what needs to be done as far as getting the runner in, and he's so consistent at it."
The Giants' gain was certainly the Rockies' loss. Scutaro had provided a veteran presence in the middle of the infield, particularly with Troy Tulowitzki on the disabled list since May 30, and was a reliable table-setter whether hitting second or leading off.
"It was [hard] to let go of him, if you want the truth, but you have to do what you have to do," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "For him to be coming up with some of the big hits that I've seen him come up with with the Giants, I'm not the least bit surprised."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.