San Francisco Giants

Hunter Pence unlikely to start rehab assignment before weekend

Giants outfielder Hunter Pence has taken some positive steps over the past week in his return from a fractured forearm, joining the team for batting practice and taking pre-game fly balls and grounders with outfielders coach Roberto Kelly.

That has also allowed the Giants to judge just how much rust Pence has to knock off after missing nearly all of spring training and a month of regular season to the March 5 injury. And it’s more than a couple rounds of BP can erase.

After saying over the weekend the Giants could have plans for a Pence rehab assignment by Monday, manager Bruce Bochy clarified today those will likely not come for another few days.

Pence did early defense work and batting practice before the Giants’ series opener against the Padres, and will take BP again Tuesday before resting Wednesday.

"He’s getting close, but you can tell he’s not quite ready to start a rehab assignment," said Bochy. "I think after Wednesday, he’ll take a couple more days of BP, and then it will be more realistic as far as starting a rehab."

Pence has reached the left-field bleachers a few times during his batting practice sessions but is clearly still regaining his timing after a long layoff. Bochy said the positive news is that, "There hasn’t been a day where we’ve had to go, ‘Oh no,’ and back off of him."

* It’s been a slow couple weeks for Hector Sanchez, who has gotten into just two games -- both as a pinch-hitter -- since April 23. Sanchez and the Giants’ other backup catcher, Andrew Susac, were both on the field early this afternoon doing defensive drills with the Giants’ first-base coach, Billy Hayes.

"They have to get their work in," Bochy said. "You’re not out there every day, that’s the only way you can stay sharp."

Sanchez has seen his playing time dwindle considerably. Susac appears to be the primary backup to Buster Posey, and Posey even caught Tim Lincecum on Sunday -- a job that’s mostly belonged to Sanchez in recent seasons. Bochy said he wants to get Sanchez a spot to get "two or three at-bats and some catching," but those opportunities have been slim.

Sanchez is still listed in the Giants’ media guide as having a minor-league option, and he could be a candidate for being sent out when the Giants get one of their injured players -- be that Pence, Jake Peavy or Travis Ishikawa -- back relatively soon.

* It’s Posey behind the plate tonight against the Padres. The Giants’ lineup:

LF Aoki

2B Panik

CF Pagan

C Posey

1B Belt

RF Maxwell

3B McGehee

SS Crawford

P Bumgarner

And the Padres’ lineup against Madison Bumgarner:

CF Myers

C Norris

RF Kemp

LF Upton

1B Solarte

2B Gyorko

3B Middlebrooks

SS Barmes

P Ross

* Peavy is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Tuesday and Bochy said the right-hander is "getting close" to a potential rehab assignment. Matt Cain is playing catch at 90 feet and "doing well," but Bochy reiterated the Giants want to "slow-play" his return to avoid another elbow setback.

* Travis Ishikawa (back strain) started a new rehab assignment with Single-A San Jose today and was scheduled to play five innings. Ishikawa had been close to returning last month before having a setback.

* The Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels snapped a franchise-record 15-game losing streak today with a 5-1 win over the Altoona Curve. Bochy had mentioned Sunday he’d talked with first-year manager Jose Alguacil about staying positive amid a "tough go."

Call The Bee’s Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015. See his baseball coverage at Follow him on Twitter at @matthewkawahara.