After breather, Giants set to kick into full gear
Sandoval, Lincecum among those entering key two-week stretch of spring camp
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Many Giants will spend the rest of Spring Training gliding into the regular season. They'll get their work in, as the saying goes, and try not to stub their toes as the April 1 opener at Los Angeles approaches.
For others, the next two weeks mean rehabilitation, competition or just plain work.
Ailing Giants must prove they can be ready for Opening Day, or they'll start the season on the disabled list. Aspiring ones are fighting for their Major League lives.
Here's a look at the Giants who will return from Monday's scheduled off-day with a sense of purpose:
Pablo Sandoval: The third baseman has no more hamate bones to break, but the Giants will be careful about his troublesome right elbow, which forced him to be scratched from Sunday's lineup. Sandoval and the club must make sure that he doesn't exacerbate the injury through his sheer love of playing the game. Sandoval's job is to recover sufficiently before Opening Day so he can accumulate enough at-bats to regain his excellent spring stroke (.435 batting average).
Hector Sanchez: The oft-injured backup catcher has been limited to 19 at-bats this spring. He, too, must show he's healthy before April Fool's Day. Guillermo Quiroz appears to be the next choice if Sanchez begins the season on the disabled list.
Tim Lincecum: Nothing's wrong with the right-hander, who's set to take his place as the Giants' No. 3 starter. But after missing much of spring with a blister on his right middle finger, Lincecum has no margin for error. He must progress in some way in each of his remaining starts, even if all he does is increase his pitch counts.
Infield backup: If the Giants wanted one of the contenders for this role to grab it with a supreme effort, they must be sorely disappointed. Tony Abreu's knee injury has sidelined him for all but one game. Wilson Valdez has been adequate. Kensuke Tanaka has received every opportunity to win the job, sharing the team lead in games (17) and ranking second in at-bats (43). But he has hit .233 while committing six errors. Don't dismiss the importance of this spot. Ryan Theriot, who occupied this role last year after beginning the season as the starting second baseman, scored the winning run in Game 4 of the World Series. It's difficult to imagine Abreu, Valdez or Tanaka delivering such a clutch performance. Maybe the Giants should consider re-signing Theriot, who remains available in free agency.
The bullpen crew: Chad Gaudin (2.19 spring ERA) appears to have forged ahead in the competition for the sole vacancy in San Francisco's bullpen. Jean Machi (2.57 ERA), Scott Proctor (6.75 ERA) and Ramon Ramirez (12.00 ERA) also are in the running. Gaudin's ability to pitch multiple innings makes him the heir apparent to Guillermo Mota, but he's not an automatic choice, given Proctor's and Ramirez's Major League experience. Machi has the advantage of being on San Francisco's 40-man roster, though that edge can disappear quickly.
Jose Mijares: Mijares' elbow problems have limited him to two Cactus League appearances. If he isn't ready for Opening Day, an additional opening will be available for the Machi-Proctor-Ramirez crowd. Or Dan Runzler, the lefty with the 1.29 ERA and tantalizing ability, could get the job.
Francisco Peguero/Cole Gillespie: Brett Pill's knee injury left this pair to compete for the backup outfield vacancy. Peguero (.385 batting average, five strikeouts in 39 at-bats, .913 OPS) clearly has outplayed Gillespie (.306 average, 10 strikeouts in 36 at-bats, .862 OPS). But the Giants' braintrust might decide that Peguero, 24, needs to play every day at Triple-A while Gillespie, 28, is more suited for pinch-hitting and reserve duty.
• The Giants announced Monday night that right-hander Yusmeiro Petit accepted his assignment to Triple-A Fresno. Petit, who was 0-1 with a 10.80 ERA in three Cactus League appearances, declined the opportunity to declare free agency after being outrighted off San Francisco's 40-man roster to Fresno's on Sunday.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.