03/27/2013 7:56 PM ET
Sandoval close to returning to game action
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The latest news regarding switch-hitting third baseman Pablo Sandoval continued to be upbeat.
Head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner reported Wednesday that Sandoval, recovering from an injured right elbow, swung from both sides of the plate and played catch at about a 75-foot distance. Groescher said that Sandoval will be re-evaluated Thursday.
Though Sandoval has not played since March 16, the Giants believe that he can be game-ready for Monday's season opener at Los Angeles, due to the number of at-bats he received late in the Venezuelan Winter League season, early in Spring Training and in the World Baseball Classic.
Manager Bruce Bochy would like to play Sandoval once or twice during the three-game Bay Bridge Series against Oakland. However, if Sandoval were to aggravate his injury against the A's, they could not backdate his disabled-list assignment into March. That's why backup catcher Hector Sanchez is performing in Minor League exhibitions.
"Sure there is," Bochy said of the risk of using Sandoval against Oakland. "But that's a decision we have to make."
Noonan looking good in quest for utility role
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rookie Nick Noonan continued to strengthen his bid for the Giants' utility infield vacancy Wednesday, going 3-for-4 in an 8-6 triumph over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Noonan came a home run short of the cycle as he hit an RBI triple in the second inning, drilled a run-scoring double in the fourth and collected a leadoff single in the sixth. He grounded to shortstop leading off the eighth, ending the drama.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy just grinned when asked about Noonan's impending roster status. But veteran infielder Tony Abreu, who began Spring Training as a leading candidate for the utility spot, is remaining in Arizona to continue to rehabilitate his knee injury, indicating that he still needs time before he can resume baseball-related activities.
Giants in good mood as spring in Arizona ends
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- You couldn't blame the Giants for feeling just a little bit giddy Wednesday.
They ended their stay in Arizona, prolonged approximately an extra week by the World Baseball Classic, with an 8-6 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. The Giants finished the Grand Canyon State portion of their preseason with a 15-14-4 record, concluding with four consecutive victories.
First baseman Brandon Belt flashed his increasingly evident sense of humor after hitting his eighth spring home run, a Major League high.
"I've accomplished all my goals this year," Belt said jokingly. "Now we go to San Francisco, where it's even easier to hit home runs."
Left-hander Madison Bumgarner couldn't resist contributing his opinion.
"I hope he doesn't wait until the All-Star break to hit another one," Bumgarner said.
A few Giants tried their hand at summarizing in real-life terms just how long this Spring Training was.
Left-hander Javier Lopez: "It seemed like it took forever for March Madness to start."
Right-hander George Kontos: "I had to get an extra haircut. Usually I'm good with two, but the other day I went to get my third."
Outfielder Cole Gillespie: "My body feels like it's in midseason form already."
• Bumgarner was mildly dissatisfied with his five-inning effort Wednesday against Arizona.
"I got kind of lazy, lost a little bit of focus, left the ball over the middle of the plate and they did what they were supposed to do with it," said Bumgarner, who yielded two runs and seven hits.
But Bochy rated Bumgarner's effort as effective, given the way batted balls were carrying toward and beyond the outfield barriers.
• Bochy also praised right-hander Heath Hembree, who's among a handful of Minor Leaguers who will accompany the Giants to the Bay Area to function as reserves in the Bay Bridge Series. Hembree, who relies primarily on his fastball, threw a 3-2 slider to strike out Tony Campana in the ninth inning.
"I tell you what, that was a really nice job he did," Bochy said of Hembree, long considered the heir apparent for the closer's role.
• Nothing's wrong with catcher Buster Posey, who rested on his 26th birthday. Pointing out that Posey had played four days in a row, Bochy said that the reigning National League Most Valuable Player will be in Thursday's lineup against Oakland at AT&T Park.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.