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02/17/10 6:57 PM EST

Giants get mixed injury news

Sanchez's shoulder improving; Ishikawa has ailing foot

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- One injury-related concern eased and another arose for the Giants on Wednesday, a day before the first workout for pitchers and catchers.

Second baseman Freddy Sanchez said that his surgically repaired left shoulder was healing ahead of schedule, which could allow him to resume baseball-related activities by taking ground balls later this week or next week.

Sanchez, who had been expected to begin the season on the disabled list, refused to rule out missing the April 5 opener at Houston.

To be physically ready for that game, said Sanchez, "there's a lot that needs to go on. But you never know. ... Obviously, that's our goal."

Sanchez's optimism was offset by ominous news surrounding first baseman Travis Ishikawa, who tore two ligaments in his left foot three weeks ago as he slipped while descending stairs at his Danville, Calif., home. Ishikawa acknowledged that surgery, which could sideline him for three months, is a remote possibility if the tears don't heal properly.

"As soon as I get home, we're going to level the second story," Ishikawa said, mustering humor.

Sanchez, 33, received the optimistic estimate about his recovery rate from Tony Reale, a physical therapist in the Giants' Minor League system with whom he has been working here. But the healing process is far from over.

"The key is to get full range of motion back and that's not there right now," Sanchez said.

The Giants have a plethora of candidates to replace Sanchez, who received a two-year, $12 million contract extension last Oct. 30. Juan Uribe or Mark DeRosa can play second base, as well as younger Giants such as Emmanuel Burris, Kevin Frandsen and Matt Downs.

"All are viable candidates," manager Bruce Bochy said.

Addressing reporters for the first time since news of his Dec. 23 procedure leaked late last month in a radio interview with Bochy, Sanchez insisted that he never discussed delaying the announcement with Giants officials.

Sanchez endured left shoulder and left knee injuries and played only 25 games after the Giants acquired him from Pittsburgh last July 29. The 2006 National League batting champion also had arthroscopic knee surgery on Sept. 30 to repair a torn left meniscus.

Ishikawa, 26, believes that he'll have honed his swing sufficiently by the season opener, though he wore a walking boot on his left foot Wednesday that's limiting him to hitting "soft-toss" pitches. He'll undergo an MRI exam and have his hyperextended toe re-examined on Feb. 26.

Ishikawa sounded resigned not when he discussed his injury, but when he reacted to being thrust into a reserve role by San Francisco's acquisition of Aubrey Huff last month. Ishikawa's likely to appear frequently as a late-inning defensive replacement, but he'd face the prospect of playing less than he did last year, when he hit .261 with nine home runs and 39 RBIs in 120 games.

"I can't lie and say it's not a problem," Ishikawa said of his projected time on the bench. "But you have to focus on what you can control. Right now, that's getting healthy. ... I'll continue to be as good as I can possibly be until the opportunity arises."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.