7/30/2014 4:43 P.M. ET
Belt, Pagan ramp up injury-recovery activity
By Chris Haft and Ryan Hood / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants first baseman Brandon Belt continued to increase his baseball-related activities Wednesday, creating the possibility that he could play during the team's four-game series beginning Friday against the Mets.
Belt's recovering from a concussion that has sidelined him since July 19. That mishap closely followed his 50-game layoff with a fractured left thumb. Should his condition keep improving, the Giants' braintrust must decide whether he's sharp enough to return directly to the Giants or must sharpen his skills in the Minor Leagues on an injury rehabilitation assignment, manager Bruce Bochy said.
Bochy acknowledged there's a "better chance" of seeing both Belt and center fielder Angel Pagan in uniform next week in Milwaukee, which is the Giants' series following the Mets encounter.
Bochy said Pagan tested his stiff back successfully Tuesday by engaging in his usual pregame routine -- including batting and fielding practice, as well as running -- at the Giants' training complex in Scottsdale, Ariz. Pagan was expected to repeat the drills Wednesday night, then will participate in an Arizona League game Thursday if he still feels fit.
Pagan hasn't played for the Giants since June 14.
Giants laud rookie Susac's catching skills
SAN FRANCISCO -- Wary of making a rookie mistake in his first Major League start, Andrew Susac hesitated before jogging to first base Tuesday night.
"I made sure of what he called before throwing the bat and looking like an idiot on my first day," the smiling rookie said after the game of his post-ball-four delay.
Statistically, the walk (his first time reaching base safely in the Majors) was the highlight of his night. It was his work behind the plate with batterymate Tim Hudson that stood out most to his teammates.
"I thought he was great," Hudson said. "He did a great job mixing it up, he receives really well. It was a good game plan. He did really well. I was pleasantly surprised with him."
Buster Posey has caught Hudson all season and offered a similar review of Susac, whom MLB.com ranks as the organization's top-rated position player prospect.
"I thought he did really well," Posey said. "He looked relaxed. Even before the game, he seemed really calm. We were just talking about how much easier it is to see in the big leagues than in Triple-A. The lights are so much better."
Susac agreed: "Oh god. It's like a day game. I don't know if it's the height or the quality. You can actually see the seams on the ball."
The rookie's solid showing earned him a spot back in the Giants' lineup for their homestand finale Wednesday afternoon. He's been a Major Leaguer for less than a week, but his confidence and composure have been evident in the clubhouse and on the field, for which Joe Panik deserves some credit, according to Susac.
Panik, a grizzled veteran of one Major League month, has helped Adam Duvall and Susac -- two players he progressed through the Giants' farm system with -- assimilate to life as a pro.
Hector Sanchez will likely miss at least one more series as he recovers from a concussion, so Susac should have a couple more opportunities to make his mark with the big club. Maybe he'll be with the Giants long enough to get team catching gear.
"The all-black," Susac said when asked about the generic catcher's gear he wore Tuesday. "I've contacted Nike. Hopefully I'll get some colorful gear up here."
Ishikawa feels at home with Giants
SAN FRANCISCO -- The saying is attributed to Willie McCovey, who needs no introduction: "Once you're a Giant, you're always a Giant."
Travis Ishikawa is the latest to demonstrate the truth of this remark.
Ishikawa, who played 281 games for the Giants and earned a 2010 World Series ring with them while spending 10 seasons (2002-2011) in their organization, rejoined the team Tuesday when his contract was purchased from Triple-A Fresno. Despite playing for four Major League clubs since his departure from the Giants, Ishikawa, who's expected to pinch-hit and provide depth at first base, embraced his return to AT&T Park.
"I know I've been gone for a few years, but last night it felt like I never left," Ishikawa said Wednesday. "Everything felt normal, it felt right, it felt like this is where I belong. I appreciate all the other organizations I've been with and the opportunities they gave me, but this is home."
The mere sight of so many familiar people deepened that feeling for Ishikawa, 30. He cited clubhouse manager Mike Murphy and his assistants, front-office personnel, the coaching staff and, of course, teammates who have remained with the Giants.
"The same core of guys is still here," he said.
Ishikawa mentioned everything while discussing why you can go home again, including "being out there in the chilly weather with a sweatshirt and coffee, and seeing the cream uniforms."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. 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.