SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants made a late switch of their starting pitcher for Saturday against the Braves, placing Jake Peavy on the disabled list and recalling Albert Suarez to take his place.
Peavy was placed on the 15-day DL with a lower back strain. The right-hander missed significant time last season with back and hip injuries. According to manager Bruce Bochy, Peavy said his back flared up Thursday in Los Angeles and got worse on Friday.
"We had to make a call," Bochy said. "He did have an MRI done today. We’re waiting on the results. But he can’t pitch with the way his back is right now. So we had to do this. I know Jake was excited about getting back into starting, so it’s a bad break for him."
Suarez was scheduled to start Saturday with Triple-A Sacramento, so the Giants did not need to scramble to replace Peavy. Suarez will make his seventh start of the season with the Giants. He had a 4.20 ERA in 16 total appearances before being optioned August 2 to make room on the roster for Matt Moore.
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The Giants are off Monday and will next need a fifth starter Sept. 2 against the Cubs in Chicago. Bochy said Matt Cain, who is scheduled to make a rehab appearance at Triple-A tonight, would start that game if he’s ready to return from his lower back strain.
"I think he will be," Bochy said. "We’ll see how this start goes but we’ll get him stretched out and if all goes well there’s a good chance he’ll pitch that game on the 2nd."
Hunter Pence is not in the Giants’ lineup for a second straight game due to tightness in his surgically repaired right hamstring. Bochy said Pence also underwent an MRI before Saturday’s game but indicated it was precautionary.
"He’s doing a lot better," Bochy said. "He’s getting treatment. I’d put him at day to day."
Outfielder Jarrett Parker, currently on the Triple-A roster, took batting practice and pre-game work with the Giants but was not expected to be activated for Saturday’s game.
A "taxi squad" rule allows teams to have a minor-leaguer on standby for 24 hours in case of a potential roster move. There are a couple possibilities here: Parker could be around in case the Giants need to make a move with Pence, or they could decide to option Suarez following his spot-start and activate Parker for an extra outfielder.
With Pence out and Buster Posey getting a night off, Joe Panik is hitting in the third spot. Bochy has called that spot a "black hole" in the Giants’ lineup this season but said he likes the way Panik, who is 15-for-45 over his last 14 games, is swinging the bat.
"You look at the quality at-bats this past week, I’m just going to throw him in that three-hole and keep Crawford and Belt where they’re at (fourth and fifth)," Bochy said.
Finally, on the minor-league front, Bochy was asked about Mac Williamson, who is 5-for-14 in his last three games at Triple-A. Bochy said Williamson is "really feeling like he’s over the shoulder issue … He’s swinging the bat well, he’s getting his timing back. As far as the baseball part, he’s doing really well."
Bochy all but guaranteed Williamson will rejoin the Giants when rosters expand Sept. 1. He said the Giants will not wait to expand their roster despite starting a series on the road in Chicago that day, though they may not bring up all the players who will be with them at some point in September.