SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants begin the second half tonight against the N.L. West-leading Diamondbacks amid encouraging news on right-hander Ryan Vogelsong, who is scheduled to throw live batting practice to hitters tomorrow and is eyeing a tentative return date in early August.
Vogelsong, who has been on the disabled list since May 21 with the fractured pinkie finger on his pitching hand, will face hitters Saturday for the first time. Depending on how he comes out of it, manager Bruce Bochy said, Vogelsong could start a rehab assignment at Single-A San Jose early next week.
"That's great news for us," Bochy said.
It sounds as if the Giants are interested in getting Vogelsong back into the rotation as quickly as possible without compromising his health. While his rehab schedule is not set in stone, Vogelsong said he's tentatively eyeing Aug. 9 as a return date. Bochy said the Giants would like to see Vogelsong get up to 80 pitches in his rehab starts before that, but the Giants might consider lowering that number to "bring him back maybe a little earlier" into the rotation and just make sure Vogelsong is covered in the bullpen in his early starts back.
"These are things we'll talk about," Bochy said.
In other rotation news, Bochy said Eric Surkamp's most recent start in Triple-A (six runs on 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings against Tacoma on July 18), didn't knock Surkamp out of the running for a potential start in the Giants' double-header against the Reds on Tuesday. Barry Zito is scheduled to start one game, while Surkamp is an option for the other along with Michael Kickham and Yusmeiro Petit.
It's Chad Gaudin, who is 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA in his six starts, on the mound tonight for the Giants as they open the second half with a series that gives them an opportunity to cut into their 6 ½-game deficit in the division. Here's the full lineup behind Gaudin:
CF Blanco 2B Scutaro C Posey 3B Sandoval RF Pence 1B Belt LF Tanaka SS Crawford P Gaudin
And the Diamondbacks' lineup against Gaudin:
CF Eaton 2B Hill 1B Goldschmidt LF Kubel 3B Prado C Montero RF Parra SS Gregorius P Kennedy
* A couple other injury-related notes: Bochy said Joaquin Arias (appendicitis), who is eligible to come off the DL next Tuesday, will probably need two or three days beyond that before he's ready to return.
Bochy also said Angel Pagan is doing baseball activities including agility drills and swinging a bat, which puts him slightly ahead of where Bochy thought the center fielder would be at this point in his recovery from hamstring tendon surgery. Bochy said there's no timetable for Pagan, but it sounds like the Giants are optimistic about Pagan coming back at some point this season.
-- Matt Kawahara