Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he might consider some lineup changes to jog a scuffling offense, and Saturday’s lineup features several.
Hunter Pence is back in right field after a 48-game absence. The Giants activated Pence, who missed a little less than two months due to hamstring surgery, from the disabled list and designated infielder Ramiro Pena for assignment.
Bochy said Pena “did a great job for us” filling in amid injuries to Matt Duffy and Joe Panik. But Pena was the victim of a roster crunch now that Panik is back and the Giants traded for infielder Eduardo Nunez on Thursday.
Speaking of Nunez, he’s leading off Saturday and playing shortstop as Brandon Crawford needs a day off because of a bruised hand. Nunez led the American League with 27 stolen bases at the time of the trade, and Bochy is seizing the chance to get his speed atop the lineup.
The Giants parting with Pena also reflects the recent play of Conor Gillaspie, who had two hits off Max Scherzer on Friday night and is batting third for the Giants on Saturday. Gillaspie has six hits in his last 11 at-bats and is hitting .309 in starts this season.
Panik, meanwhile, is 0-for-7 in two games since returning from the DL and is moved to the seventh spot in Saturday’s lineup. Bochy said it’s clear that Panik “doesn’t quite have his swing” after missing 23 games with a concussion.
The full Giants lineup looks like this: SS Nunez, LF Pagan, 3B Gillaspie, C Posey, RF Pence, 1B Belt, 2B Panik, CF Blanco, P Peavy.
Duffy, who’s recovering from an Achilles strain, is scheduled to start a rehab assignment Saturday with Triple-A Sacramento. The third baseman is scheduled to play five innings in his first of three games with the River Cats. Bochy said Duffy will then move his rehab to Double-A Richmond: The Giants start an East Coast road trip on Tuesday and want to have Duffy close so he can join them quickly if activated.
Finally, center fielder Denard Span is not in the lineup Saturday because of a sore quad. Span banged his left leg against that of Nationals first baseman Clint Robinson on a bunt single Friday night and was limping before staying in the game.
Gregor Blanco is playing center field. Bochy said Blanco’s knee has also been a little sore – a reason Blanco gave for not charging full-speed at a single to right field Friday that resulted in Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos scoring from second base.