Chad Gaudin talks about getting ready for 2013 season

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy indicated Thursday that the only obstacle that would prevent Chad Gaudin from starting Sunday at St. Louis would be a situation in which the Giants need him to pitch multiple relief innings Friday or Saturday.

"We're getting him set to start, but you never know," Bochy said. "We may need him [in relief]. Sometimes you have to deviate, depending on how you use the bullpen."

Barring that sort of emergency, Gaudin will make his 76th career start and his first in the Major Leagues since Sept. 28, 2009, when he lasted 6 2/3 innings for the Yankees and earned the decision in their 8-2 victory over Kansas City.

Bochy said that he would be satisfied if Gaudin, who's replacing the injured Ryan Vogelsong, can work five or six innings Sunday. Bochy added that this should be a realistic goal, given Gaudin's durability. He has twice thrown three innings or more, including a 72-pitch outing May 15 at Toronto.

Bochy pointed out that since Gaudin's projected start is followed by a scheduled off-day, the Giants don't have to push the right-hander to consume innings, since they can use the bullpen freely.

Lincecum 'little bit of an enigma' to Bochy

OAK@SF: Bochy on Lincecum's start, defensive lapses

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy admitted Thursday that he's as befuddled as anybody by Tim Lincecum's overall performance.

Lincecum (3-5, 5.12 ERA) has lost five of his last six decisions. His total of 31 walks was the National League's second highest entering Thursday. But he also ranked fourth in the league in strikeouts per nine innings (9.4) and ninth in strikeouts overall (68).

"He is a little bit of an enigma," Bochy said of the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner. "His stuff is there. He has really good innings. He's just in a rut where at the critical part of a game, he makes a mistake."

Bochy joined the consensus -- which includes Lincecum himself -- in saying that fastball command, or lack of it, has hampered the right-hander most.

"That's the pitch that gets away from him sometimes," Bochy said. "That's probably the most important pitch to command."

Sandoval sticking with free-swinging ways

OAK@SF: Panda drives in Scutaro with single to right

SAN FRANCISCO -- Pablo Sandoval drove in a run on an opposite-field single in the eighth inning on a pitch out of the strike zone Wednesday evening as the third baseman attempts to escape his recent slump.

According to ESPN's Mark Simon, Sandoval entered Thursday with 29 hits on pitches out of the strike zone, the most in baseball and nine more than Milwaukee's Jean Segura, who has the second most with 20.

Manager Bruce Bochy said it is important for Sandoval, whose batting average has dropped to .284, to stay true to his approach even with Sandoval's increased focus on patience in 2013.

"Pablo is Pablo," Bochy said. "You don't change a good hitter like this. ... The worst thing you can do is change these guys.

"He's going to expand the zone. He has that ability and before this little skid, he was swinging as well as anybody."

Bochy added that Sandoval's recent bout with the flu has affected his offensive production.

Pagan, Scutaro sit out finale vs. Oakland

COL@SF: Pagan delivers walk-off inside-the-park homer

SAN FRANCISCO -- Manager Bruce Bochy updated the status of injured and sick players before Thursday's matinee against Oakland.

Bochy said he hopes center fielder Angel Pagan can return to the lineup Saturday in St. Louis. Pagan received a cortisone injection Wednesday to assist with his ailing left hamstring.

"He's not allowed to do a lot right now, but tomorrow he'll do some running and take (batting practice) and we'll see where he's at," Bochy said.

Marco Scutaro was not in Thursday's lineup because the second baseman is experiencing flu-like symptoms, Bochy said.

"We're starting to pass [the flu] around and he's down, so he needs a day and hopefully we can contain this and keep it from spreading any more," he said. "It hit Pablo pretty good, hit [outfielder Gregor] Blanco and now Marco's got it. It seems to hang around for a while."

The cast on starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong's right hand has been removed.

"When they looked at him yesterday, everything looked good. Everything looked clean," Bochy said.

The Giants placed Vogelsong on the 15-day disabled list May 21 after he broke his throwing hand during an at-bat against the Nationals.