SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants outfielder Hunter Pence was expected to take live batting practice this weekend for the first time since fracturing his forearm in spring training. He didn’t wait that long.
Pence was on the field at AT&T Park today hours before the Giants opened a homestand against the Los Angeles Angels, taking live swings along with several teammates. Pence took about 15 live swings after also hitting soft toss and off a tee.
"He snuck in there," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He wasn’t scheduled to hit today, but he talked the trainers into it. It went well … That’s a big step for him."
The next step for Pence would be a rehab assignment, and Bochy indicated that could be coming soon. Pence will continue to take BP through the weekend and be reevaluated on Monday, at which point Bochy said the Giants will "probably have some more info as far as when he’s able to start a rehab."
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"He needs to play some games, I can’t tell you how many," Bochy said. "We’ll see where he’s at, his timing, how he feels, look at all the variables before we bring him up."
Bochy didn’t get into specifics but said he would be "shocked" if Pence isn’t back with the team this month, and conservatively estimated "toward the back end of May."
Pence was not eager to discuss his BP session, saying he preferred to leave health updates to Bochy and the trainers. He said he’s "doing everything to get back as soon as I can."
* The Giants’ lineup for their series opener against the Angels:
And the Angels’ lineup:
* A couple other health updates: Bochy said starter Jake Peavy (lower back strain) will throw a bullpen session Saturday, while Matt Cain (elbow) will be throwing off of flat ground for the next 7 to 10 days.
* There’ll be more on this in a story this weekend in The Bee, but Bochy strongly stated today his preference that the National League does not adopt the designated hitter, as had been suggested by some after Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright suffered a torn Achilles tendon running out of the batter’s box recently.
"I hope they never change," Bochy said. "Our league, the National League, I think there’s so much history to the game and I just don’t want to see that change. I like the fact that the leagues are different, I like the strategy in the National League … It’s a game that I think creates a lot more interest with the pitchers in the lineup because there is so much more strategy involved."
* This isn’t the first time the Angels have been back to AT&T Park since the 2002 World Series, but manager Mike Scioscia was asked whether he still has memories of the place left over from that Series.
Scioscia wryly recalled that after the first game at AT&T Park (Game 3), he walked via the warning track to the visiting press room that was located across the field. His memory was: "getting totally verbally abused by the fans to the extent where I stopped and went, wow, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard that word before."
"And then (the next game), getting smarter when they beat us, to walk straight across the mound instead," Scioscia said with a grin. "Those were some good times. They couldn’t reach me when I was walking right through the mound."
Scioscia and the Angels had the last laugh, of course, winning the Series in Game 7.