SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy said center fielder Angel Pagan’s visit to back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins today provided no new diagnoses but some potential peace of mind for Pagan, who remains sidelined with a bulging disc and nerve irritation in his lower back.
Pagan is scheduled to stay overnight in Los Angeles, receive an epidural Thursday and then rejoin the Giants. Bochy said Pagan will rest through the weekend before being re-evaluated and hopefully resuming baseball activities.
Bochy said he talked with trainer Dave Groeschner, who’s in L.A. with Pagan, and that Pagan "seems upbeat. I think he had a little sense of relief that he got another opinion, and has a better idea of what’s going on. It’s that nerve, and we’re going to try to calm it down."
Meanwhile, Gregor Blanco is back in the leadoff spot and center field tonight against Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright after Juan Perez started the opener against a lefty. Blanco has gotten most of the playing time in Pagan’s absence, but since June 15 he’s batting just .192 (10-for-52).
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"More than anything, (he’s) late," Bochy said. "He’s just late with his getting ready. When you pop the ball up or hit a fly ball to left, you’re late. And you need a little movement with the bat, you need to get your stride down. He’s just consistently late more than anything."
Bochy said Blanco is working on fixing those issues and that "we need to get him going." While Tyler Colvin could provide another option in center field -- especially when first baseman Brandon Belt returns and Michael Morse can return to left field -- Bochy said the Giants aren’t looking elsewhere for center field options.
"Gregor, he’s here for that reason," Bochy said. "We signed him to a pretty good contract to give us coverage on something like this."
So it’s Blanco leading off tonight, heading up this Giants’ lineup against Wainwright:
And the Cardinals’ lineup against Vogelsong:
* A couple other injury updates:
Bochy said Belt is scheduled to play first base for Triple-A Fresno tonight, rejoin the Giants on Thursday and be activated Friday in San Diego.
Second baseman Marco Scutaro is scheduled to play five innings tonight in the Arizona League after being off last night. Bochy said there still haven’t been discussions about a timetable for Scutaro, but the fact his recovery hasn’t been interrupted since he started playing rehab games is an encouraging sign.
"He’s determined to get over the hump with this and keep grinding through it," Bochy said. "So once he gets extended in these games, seven or eight innings, I think we’ll have a better idea how he comes out of it, where he’s at."
Infielder Ehire Adrianza is also with Triple-A Fresno tonight and will play five innings.
* Bochy was asked about Michael Morse driving a double to right-center last night and whether that’s indicative of Morse regaining some touch at the plate. Bochy said it was a "great swing" but more telling that Morse has gotten over the "crud" (illness) that made its way through the clubhouse last month.
"Even though you’re getting over it, it just zaps you," Bochy said. "It just takes a while to get the strength back."
Morse hasn’t homered since June 5. Pablo Sandoval, whom Bochy said "kind of started" the bug going around the clubhouse, homered last night for the first time since June 15. The Giants had hit just two home runs in their previous 11 games, though they still rank third in the N.L. in that category with 78 thanks to their torrid first two months.
"We weren’t going to keep at that pace, we all knew it," Bochy said. Still, he said, it was "surprising" to see how much the pace had fallen off in recent weeks. "We just weren’t driving the ball at all. Give credit to the pitching we were facing, but at the same time, we went through it as a group as far as power."
* Ryan Vogelsong opposes 10-game winner Adam Wainwright tonight coming off of a strong last outing against Cincinnati, in which he held the Reds to one run in six innings. The Giants faced Wainwright once already this season and scored seven runs off of him in 4 1/3 innings, but Wainwright has pitched more to form since then, recording a 1.16 ERA in four starts in June.