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3/17/2014 9:07 P.M. ET

Giants hope Pagan, Morse can play soon

TEMPE, Ariz. -- With center fielder Angel Pagan again out of the lineup after a one-game return and left fielder Michael Morse still working his way back toward game action, time is fleeting for two key players to get back to health for Opening Day.

Thursday could be a big day for both of them, a target date for Pagan to get back in action as he deals with lower-back stiffness and Morse, dealing with a calf strain, to make his first appearance since last Wednesday.

Pagan, who had been out of the lineup four games with his back issue, returned Sunday but wasn't available Monday.

"I think he's going to be fine, I do," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Once we get through this day off [Wednesday] I think he'll be good to go, but we are getting close. Ask me Thursday and if he's still feeling something, I will be concerned."

Lincecum learning to live without strikeouts

TEMPE, Ariz. -- After battling but not quite getting out of the sixth inning of Monday's exhibition game against the Angels, Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum walked off the mound with his glove over his mouth, obviously screening some choice words for himself.

"I wasn't pleased with where I left off," Lincecum said. "I wanted to get through that inning, but I didn't, so I was a little upset with that."

It's only Spring Training, but Lincecum was in battle mode throughout his outing of 5 1/3 innings in which he allowed five earned runs on seven hits while walking two and striking out none. Even if the results marked the roughest outing he's had this spring, he got in more than 80 pitches of work, and all his pitches felt good coming out of his hand, for the most part.

In that sixth inning, Lincecum got a visit from pitching coach Dave Righetti and appeared to make an adjustment to get the ball going where he wanted it more once again. But a sacrifice fly and a run-scoring single ended his day.

For the second time in four starts, Lincecum didn't strike out a batter, but that's part of his evolution as a pitcher. Once a strikeout machine, he's taking more of an approach of pitching to contact. He has just four K's in 14 2/3 innings of work this spring.

"In my mind I was always trying to strike out guys. That was my mindset even coming up," Lincecum said. "It's different, but an out's an out. I'd like to go further into games, and I know that going for the strikeout sometimes has hurt me, sometimes hasn't. Mostly, I want to go for the quick outs."

Worth noting

Brandon Hicks ripped his Cactus League-leading seventh double of the spring to help ignite a four-run rally in the ninth inning against the Angels that gave San Francisco the lead, a lead that went away in the bottom of the ninth in an 8-7 loss. "That's a great at-bat, down 0-2 and battled back and hit a nice gapper there," Bochy said of Hicks. "The kids tried to pull it out for us. There was a lot of life there, and they did a great job. We just let it get away."

• Reliever Jean Machi had been solid this spring, recording a team-high three saves in five outings, but he allowed a two-run homer on a 3-and-0 pitch to Kole Calhoun for the Angels' winning margin. Said Bochy: "He's been throwing well. But he laid one in there 3-0, had a base open, gotta be a little smarter. He gave in a little bit too much."

• In Sunday's game against Cleveland, the Giants turned a Brandon-to-Brandon-to-Brandon double play, going from second baseman Hicks to shortstop Crawford to first baseman Belt. Crawford shared that notable Monday with the team's home clubhouse assistant, Brandon Evans.

• After Tuesday's night game and Wednesday's off-day, the Giants will have only seven Cactus League games in Arizona before breaking camp and heading home for the three-game Bay Bridge Series.

John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnSchlegelMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.