AT&T PARK — Four hours before game time on Monday, San Francisco Giants third baseman Evan Longoria went through his paces around the bag, fielding grounders and throwing to bases.
At just over the three-week mark since he broke the fifth metacarpal in his left (glove) hand against the Miami Marlins, Longoria could back on the shorter end of his 6-8 week prognosis.
“I’d put him at close to three weeks away,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
Longoria said his hand “feels good,” after the lengthy groundball session on the field, as well as some “light flip,” swings off the tee, dry swinging and playing catch.
“I’m just trying to stay encouraged,” Longoria said. “I’m well on track to at least be close to the timeline they set in the beginning.”
Before he was hit by an inside pitch in his second at-bat against Dan Straily on June 14, Longoria had hit safely in four of his previous five games. He looked to be pulling out of a slump that saw him go 2-for-24 to start the month.
After leaving in the sixth inning of Sunday’s series finale against the St. Louis Cardinals with left calf tightness, Gorkys Hernandez did not start on Monday, but was available for duty off the bench.
“Gorkys is doing pretty good. He does need a day,” Bochy said. “He’s available to come off the bench, and my guess is he’s going to be OK to play tomorrow.”
Last time against Chicago Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks — set to take the mound on Monday — Hernandez went 2-for-3. All-Star Brandon Crawford (3-for-10, 2 doubles) and All-Star hopeful Brandon Belt (5-for-13, triple, home run) are the only Giants in the starting lineup to have success against Hendricks, who has a 4.27 ERA this season, but threw seven two-hit innings and allowed just one run against the Giants at Wrigley Field on May 25.
“He’s a good pitcher that really hits the spots well,” Bochy said. “That’s his deal. His command and movement on the fastball, he’s got a great changeup and curveball. Hopefully, we’re patient up there and at the same time, aggressive when we get a pitch to hit.”
Speaking of All-Stars, the Giants marketing department didn’t have to do much convincing to get reliever Derek Holland to take off one of his clever conversation-piece t-shirts, and Hunter Pence to find the tightest tank top he could, in order to make a push for first baseman Belt to be voted into the game on the Final Vote.
The two relished their opportunity to play the “Ballot Brothers,” complete with Giants-orange tag team belts in a professional wrestling promo-style hit to drum up support.
On Monday, the sounds of the pair doing their best Hulk Hogan and Randy “Macho Man” Savage impressions came from every corner of the San Francisco locker room, with All-Star Buster Posey (who will miss the game) shaking his head in disbelief.
“The Ballot Brothers?” asked reliever Ty Blach. “That’s great,” Tony Watson said.
“They’re talented, aren’t they?” Bochy said. “Yeah, yeah, it’s got to be nice to have that much confidence to put together that kind of video. They did a good job. They’re both entertaining. The two perfect guys to put together a video like that.”
Bochy said he’d need “a couple weeks” to get into good enough “commercial shape” to take his top off.
“That’s pretty awesome,” Bent said, after viewing the video. “I’ve got some great teammates here, and that was way more than I ever expected, so it’s pretty cool.”
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