6/29/2014 3:58 A.M. ET
Slugging Morse making case for All-Star Game
By Ryan Hood / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Online-only voting for the 2014 All-Star Game commenced Thursday, which signaled the arrival of the final push for this year's balloting. The Giants have the National League's second-best record but no players atop their positions in the voting.
Each of the team's three starting outfielders is in striking distance of the current would-be NL starters. Angel Pagan is seventh, Michael Morse is eighth and Hunter Pence is 10th among NL outfielders. Morse trails third-place Carlos Gomez by a tad less than 1.5 million votes, but the impact he's made in his first season as a Giant -- especially in the power department -- has made Morse a worthy candidate for All-Star inclusion.
While the Giants have maintained throughout the season that they don't care about All-Star appearances, Morse has a case to make his third All-Star Game. His .281 batting average is a significant increase from his .215 mark in 2013 and he leads the team in both home runs (13) and RBIs (44).
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday at 8:59 p.m. PT. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15 on FOX.
Belt's rehab shifts to Triple-A Fresno early
SAN FRANCISCO -- Two games into his rehab assignment, Giants first baseman Brandon Belt is two days ahead of schedule.
Belt (broken left thumb) was promoted to Triple-A Fresno on Saturday and served as the designated hitter there Saturday night. He went 3-for-4 with two doubles, including one in the eighth that plated the go-ahead run in a 3-2 Grizzlies victory.
Manager Bruce Bochy said the plan is for Belt to play first base Sunday. Belt was originally slated to play at Class A Advanced San Jose through Sunday, but his early success accelerated the timeline. Getting plunked by two pitches gave the Giants further incentive to promote Belt to a higher level.
Belt followed a 1-for-3 performance Thursday with a 2-for-3 showing Friday that included a home run.
"He feels great so we went ahead and bumped him up," Bochy said Saturday.
Bochy would not commit to a return date for Belt, but has previously said the Giants are eyeing that to occur around Friday. That's dependent upon how Belt's balance, bat speed and timing progress.
Second baseman Marco Scutaro played three innings in a Rookie-level game Friday. He grounded out and hit into a fielder's choice. Scutaro (lower back strain) has played two rehab games this week in a bid to return to the big leagues, where he has yet to play this season. Scutaro was slated to play four or five innings Friday; Bochy said he hadn't received word of why he only played three.
Pagan making progress toward return to action
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants hope center fielder Angel Pagan will return to the lineup Tuesday, but that's far from definitive.
Pagan (lower back strain) hit off a tee and ran on a treadmill Saturday. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said it's possible Pagan will take live batting practice Sunday, even though the team won't, since it's a day game.
Gregor Blanco's struggles in Pagan's absence further amplify Pagan's importance to the team. Saturday was Blanco's 20th consecutive start, thanks to injuries to Brandon Belt and Pagan. Blanco had just one hit in his last 13 at-bats entering Saturday and was 3-for-20 during the current homestand.
"He's having a tough time with the bat, and that's what really makes the loss of Angel so much tougher, because Blanco's having a tough time," Bochy said.
Bochy said he discussed possible changes to the top of the lineup Friday night; Hunter Pence and Juan Perez were mentioned, but Perez has struggled mightily in his limited action and Bochy doesn't want to remove Pence from the two-hole.
Pagan is hitting a team-high .307 with three home runs and 19 RBIs and also leads the team with 11 stolen bases in 63 games this season.
• Despite his recent success (hitting .364 in June), Buster Posey wasn't in the starting lineup Saturday. He's fine, though. Bochy wanted to give Posey the day off with a day game Sunday.
• Right-hander Jake Dunning cleared waivers and is heading to Triple-A Fresno. The 25-year-old was designated for assignment to create room for Joe Panik on the 40-man roster.
• Right-hander Derek Law had Tommy John surgery Tuesday. He tweeted Saturday that the operation was successful. The 23-year-old is rated the organization's No. 10 prospect by MLB.com and made a strong push to make the Opening Day roster in Spring Training. Law had a 2.57 ERA and 13 saves for Double-A Richmond this season but felt tightness in his forearm June 8.
Ryan Hood is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanhood19. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.