8/18/2013 12:05 A.M. ET
Panda picking up pace, especially in the clutch
By Joe Morgan / MLB.com
MIAMI -- Even though the Giants are on the other side of the country, Pablo Sandoval figured out a way to bring his teammates home against the Marlins. He finished 3-for-3 with runners in scoring position in San Francisco's 14-10 win on Friday.
Sandoval reached base in all six of his plate appearances against Miami and upped his batting average with runners in scoring position to .364 (39-for-107), the seventh-best mark in the National League.
Although Sandoval has excelled in RBI situations, Friday night was a breakthrough for the reigning World Series MVP. His three RBIs against Miami marked the first time he's had that many since May 14.
"I don't try to get too excited up there," Sandoval said. "I try to trust my hands and try to put the ball in play. I was excited to swing the bat the way I swung it [Friday]."
Sandoval's hitting has picked up since he began August batting .077 (3-for-39) during the month's first 10 games. Since Aug. 11, Sandoval is 9-for-18 with five RBIs.
His .266 batting average entering Saturday sits just below his career-worst clip of .268 in 2010, but the third baseman is confident he will finish 2013 with a much better mark.
"I know that everything's going to be better and better every day, because I've been working hard," Sandoval said. "I just have to be consistent now. No one day off. I just try to be consistent every day, go up there and try to do the best that I can."
For Sandoval, consistency is key. Experiencing the excitement of one of his best games at the plate on Friday so soon after his slow start in August, he understands the need to stay the course during a long season.
With the Giants struggling through a difficult 2013 campaign that finds them 17 games behind the first-place Dodgers in the National League West entering Saturday -- after winning the World Series last year -- Sandoval's attitude serves the club well.
"You're going to have bad days, too," Sandoval said. "No matter what, you have to keep your head up and keep working hard."
Scutaro exits with lower back tightness
MIAMI -- Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro won't play Sunday after leaving Saturday's game with lower back tightness. Joaquin Arias replaced Scutaro at second base and at the top of the batting order prior to the bottom of the sixth inning.
"His back tightened up, so that's why I took him out," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He'll be off [Sunday]. He's had ongoing issues this year with it. He got hit in the back [Friday] night, so it tightened up on him."
Scutaro was a late scratch due to a stiff back before San Francisco's game in Washington on Tuesday. He also had back issues during Spring Training and early in the regular season.
The 37-year-old entered Saturday batting .306 with two home runs and 23 RBIs. He went hitless in three at-bats before exiting, snapping a five-game hitting streak during which he batted .364 (8-for-22) with three runs scored.
Scutaro has started 104 of the Giants' 122 games this season.
Bochy believes that the prolonged rest the offseason offers will bring some relief for Scutaro, who has successfully managed to play regularly despite the lingering back issues.
"There's still time to get it to calm down, which it has at times," Bochy said. "He's just gone through moments where it's hard for him to get it to calm down where it's not bothering him. He's older, and he needs his days. You have to be honest with that."
Scutaro grounded out twice and flied out to right field against Marlins starter Henderson Alvarez on Saturday. Scutaro recorded three assists in the field, throwing out three runners at first on groundouts.
Pagan makes most of limited rehab appearance
MIAMI -- Outfielder Angel Pagan's first game of his rehab assignment with the Arizona League Giants on Friday went fine, according to San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy. Pagan will play five innings on Saturday.
Pagan finished 0-for-1 with a walk in three innings on Friday.
"He got a couple of at-bats, and he had a lot of plays out in the outfield," Bochy said. "He was moving around well, so the first game went well for him."
Bochy said Pagan's limited outing on Friday provided plenty of opportunities for the outfielder to test his left hamstring.
"He had quite a few plays, I don't know how many," Bochy said. "He got a lot of action out there for three innings."
Pagan underwent surgery to repair a tendon on the inside edge of his left knee on June 25. As he prepared for the procedure, the announced timetable for the outfielder's return to the Majors was set at 12 weeks, which projected to mid-September.
The switch hitter has not played since he hit a walk-off inside-the-park home run against the Rockies on May 25. He said he injured himself earlier in that game.
Pagan aggravated the injury while running to first base in a rehab game with Class A San Jose on June 20, ultimately leading to the decision to have surgery. Pagan was batting .262 with three homers, 24 RBIs and 30 runs scored when he went on the DL.
Mota gets Series ring, expresses desire to return
MIAMI -- Former Giants reliever and Miami native Guillermo Mota received his 2012 World Series ring on Saturday. While visiting during San Francisco's batting practice, Mota said he would like to pitch two more seasons in the Majors.
Mota, who said he turned down a Minor League deal offered by the Orioles earlier this year, would like to return to the Giants' bullpen next season.
"I want to be here," Mota said. "I have too much fun here. I want to come back."
After hearing Mota's comeback plan, San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said: "That's what he told me. I said, 'Well, we're a little strapped in the 'pen tonight if you want to get ready.' He actually mentioned maybe trying to throw next year."
Mota spent three seasons with the Giants from 2010-12, compiling a 3-6 record with a 4.18 ERA in 155 innings. He pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings in the 2010 World Series and gave up four earned runs on six hits in 1 2/3 innings during the 2012 playoffs.
In May 2012, Mota was suspended 100 games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance for the second time in his career.
Mota was greeted warmly by several Giants players, including Hunter Pence. Bochy said having the reliever back in the clubhouse on Saturday was nice.
"He got his ring," Bochy said. "He was really excited, pumped about it. The guys were excited about seeing Mota. ... They've had a good time revisiting."
Asked if he preferred his new World Series ring to his first, Mota was quick to respond, "Oh yeah."
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.