Matt York Associated Press The Giants' Hunter Pence prepares to grab a fly ball hit by the Diamondbacks' Aaron Hill in the first inning. The Giants won 8-6.

S.F. gets good news on Sandoval

Published: Thursday, Mar. 28, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2C
Last Modified: Thursday, Mar. 28, 2013 - 6:33 am

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – In talking about the goals for his final Cactus League start, Ryan Vogelsong also summed up the Giants' main concern for the lengthy spring.

"Don't get hurt," Vogelsong said flatly. "Don't get hurt."

During 44 days in the desert, the reigning World Series champions learned "hurt" can be a relative term. The training staff dealt with everything from blisters to ulnar neuritis. But the Giants are optimistic the last lingering injury, Pablo Sandoval's elbow pain, will heal in time to give them a full complement of players in Monday's season opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Sandoval played catch Wednesday, hit from both sides of the plate and took ground balls.

"He felt great," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's good news. He was pretty excited about how he felt."

Bochy was pleased with his team's health as the Giants prepared to return to San Francisco, where they begin a three-game exhibition series against the A's tonight.

"We had a couple nicks here and there," he said. "But overall we're coming out pretty good."

The key contributors who received treatment included Tim Lincecum (finger), Matt Cain (knee), Marco Scutaro (back), Brandon Belt (neck), Hector Sanchez (shoulder and calf), Andres Torres (side and foot), Javier Lopez (wrist) and Jose Mijares (elbow).

Hunter Pence (.365) and Brandon Crawford (.357) have had big springs, but nobody was as hot as Belt. In Wednesday's 8-6 win over Arizona in Scottsdale, he hit his eighth homer, and he's batting .448.

Could Belt's time in the desert have gone any better?

"Not really," he said. "I feel like I'm exactly where I want to be right now."

A's Lowrie has inside track

It seems inevitable that Jed Lowrie will be the A's Opening Day shortstop over Hiroyuki Nakajima.

Lowrie has played well on defense and has hit .304 with three homers this spring. He was Houston's shortstop last year until being injured, and though the A's acquired him to be a utility infielder, he wants to play one position: shortstop.

"It's where I'm most comfortable, that's for sure," he said.

Nakajima, who hit only .167 in Cactus League play, strained his left hamstring while running the bases Tuesday. He indicated he was feeling better Wednesday, but he sat out the 6-5 win over Colorado in Phoenix, and he could wind up on the disabled list.

"Until he sees the doctors, I won't make any predictions about when he'll play," manager Bob Melvin said. "But he most likely won't play in the Giants series, and it could be longer than that."

Asked about Lowrie being the shortstop Monday against Seattle, Melvin said, "We still have some cuts to make, and we still have to see where we are going with Hiro."

Jarrod Parker had another rough outing in his final tuneup before the regular season. He gave up a homer and double to lead off the game and lasted just 4 1/3 innings, giving up six hits and four runs. He finished the spring with a 7.45 ERA.

First baseman Nate Freiman, who was claimed off waivers from Houston on Saturday, doubled, singled and drove in two runs.

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