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06/03/11 2:21 PM ET

Sandoval begins rehab Friday for San Jose

Giants hoping to get third baseman 20 to 30 at-bats

ST. LOUIS -- Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval will begin his injury rehabilitation assignment Friday with high-Class A San Jose, where he truly commanded attention during his ascent to the Major Leagues.

Manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday that the Giants' tentative plan is to give Sandoval at least 20 to 30 at-bats, then evaluate him. After playing a prescribed six innings Friday, Sandoval likely will appear again Saturday against Visalia.

San Jose then goes on the road, leaving Sandoval to go to Triple-A Fresno, starting Sunday, for what could be his final activity before returning to the Giants. Fresno will be facing Las Vegas in a series that ends Tuesday.

"We're looking at four or five games," Bochy said. "If we think he needs more, we'll do it."

Sandoval has been sidelined since April 30 with a fractured hamate bone in his right hand. The switch-hitter, who was batting .313 with five home runs and 14 RBIs at the time of his injury, underwent surgery on May 3 to have the hamate's hook-shaped portion removed.

Sandoval created a sensation while playing for San Jose in 2008, hitting .359 in 68 games during his sixth professional season. He was with the Giants by Aug. 14.

Sabean critical of Cousins for hit on Posey

ST. LOUIS -- Giants general manager Brian Sabean made some pointed remarks Thursday about Scott Cousins, the Marlins outfielder involved in the May 25 home-plate collision that ended catcher Buster Posey's season.

During his periodic appearance on "The Razor and Mr. T." show on KNBR-680 AM, the Giants' flagship station, Sabean sympathized with Posey's refusal to return Cousins' apologetic phone message. Despite having a clear path to home plate, Cousins plowed into Posey, the reigning National League Rookie of the Year, who sustained a fractured left leg and torn ankle ligaments that required surgery.

"I don't blame [Posey]," Sabean said. "Why not be hard-nosed? If I never hear from Cousins again or he never plays another day in the big leagues, I think we'll all be happy."

Later during the interview, co-host Ralph Barbieri asked Sabean whether his remarks weren't somewhat harsh.

"Well, no," Sabean replied. "[Cousins] chose to be a hero in my mind, and if that's his flash of fame, then that's as good as it's gonna get, pal. We'll have a long memory. We've talked to [former catcher Mike] Matheny and how this game works. You can't be that out-and-out overly aggressive; let's put it that way. I'll put it as politically as I can state it. There is no love lost, and there shouldn't be."

Cousins responded to Sabean's comments through his agent, Matt Sosnick, on Friday.

"I hope and believe that Mr. Sabean's comments were made in the heat of the moment and are based more on his fondness for Buster Posey than on any animosity towards me," Cousins said in a statement. "This situation is still an open wound for many, including myself. As I have stated previously, nobody outside of Buster feels worse about his injury than I do. I have reached out to Buster to let him know how badly I feel about his being injured during our collision at home plate.

"I do believe, however, that the play was clean and totally within the rules of the game. Explaining over and over that I would never intentionally hurt another player for any reason won't change the minds of those who doubt my sincerity or intent. I have a responsibility to myself, my teammates and my organization to play the game hard. This is what has gotten me to the big leagues, and hopefully this is what will keep me here. Please understand and respect that these are my only comments on the incident."

Sabean also said he's "sure" that Posey will continue to catch when he resumes playing, rather than make a much-speculated position switch. Sabean added that Giants manager Bruce Bochy spoke to Joe Torre, Major League Baseball's vice president of baseball operations, to discuss potential rule changes to protect catchers. Torre, Sabean related, will "take some things under advisement and see what they can come up with."

Torre plans to call Sabean regarding his comments, a source told ESPN on Friday.

Zito to get back on rubber Monday night

ST. LOUIS -- Barry Zito will intensify his efforts to recover from a sprained right foot by pitching for high-Class A San Jose on Monday night at Stockton.

Zito has been appearing in extended spring training games in Arizona as he gradually regains arm strength. Manager Bruce Bochy said that the left-hander threw 75 pitches in a five-inning effort Wednesday.

As Zito progresses toward full strength, speculation will continue to grow regarding how the Giants will handle his re-entry into the rotation. Right-hander Ryan Vogelsong, who replaced Zito in late April, is 3-1 with a 1.77 ERA in nine games, including seven starts.

Worth noting

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last Giants player to drive in the tying run in the ninth inning and the winning run later in the game -- before Nate Schierholtz did so on Wednesday -- was Tom Lampkin on June 19, 1996. ... Infielder Ryan Rohlinger, designated for assignment last Thursday, was claimed by the Rockies. Right-hander Henry Sosa, also designated for assignment, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Double-A Richmond.

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