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San Francisco Giants notebook: Rotation in flux headed into Bay Bridge Series, Joe Panik injury update

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Giants pitcher Derek Holland takes the mound during spring training at Scottsdale Stadium in Scottsdale, Ariz., on March 3, 2018. (Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)

AT&T PARK — With his hair done up in a high stack of curls, Derek Holland sauntered into the San Francisco Giants clubhouse with the relaxed comportment of an everyday player on Tuesday. For about the past week, he essentially has been, making a pair of relief appearances after the return of Jeff Samardzija, and taking his move to the bullpen in stride.

Below those curls, though, was Holland’s traditional start-day t-shirt: A faded black cutoff featuring South Park’s Butters. The 31-year old known for his novelty shirts, including a print of Marty McFly’s Back to the Future outfit, will go back to being a starter on Tuesday, opposing Jose Quintana (7-6, 4.22 ERA) of the Chicago Cubs.

“That’s been the plan all along,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “This is what we set up.”

The move allows the Giants the ability to get Johnny Cueto on something of a six-day schedule. He will start on Wednesday, as he works back from an elbow strain that sidelined him from April 28 to July 5.

“We try to give our guys an extra day with the day off, but I think every start’s going to dictate that,” Bochy said. “He may need an extra day if he works a little bit harder, or feels it a little bit in the elbow. If not, he’ll go five days.”

The Giants rotation will be a bit wonky as San Francisco heads into the All-Star break, with Holland going on Tuesday, Cueto Wednesday and then a tossup for the weekend Bay Bridge Series against the Oakland Athletics.

“The next day or two, we could use anybody, as far as a starter [out of the bullpen],” Bochy said. “If all goes well, Bum [Madison Bumgarner] could go Friday or Saturday. He’ll go one of those two. [Dereck] Rodriguez could go Friday, if we don’t have to use him before then.”

Andrew Suarez, who threw six innings of one-run ball on Monday, “could be” done for the first half, Bochy said. He’s already thrown 84 innings in 15 starts this season, and the most he’s ever thrown in a season is 155.2 in 2017, split between Double-A and Triple-A.

“We have talked about that, and that would be part of it,” Bochy said. “His scheduled start would be the last day, so we skip him there, we give him a 10-12-day rest. That could serve him well, not that he’s shown any signs [of fatigue]. He’s just doing a terrific job.”

Over his last seven games, Suarez is 1-1 with a 2.68 ERA, averaging over 5 2/3 innings per start. Since the start of June, he’s pitched into the sixth inning in six of his eight starts, and has held opponents to two runs or fewer for each of his last six starts.

Still, Suarez could pitch, which is why the Giants did not move him down to Triple-A and bring up another arm. If a starter is the best man to bring in, in a situation, Bochy won’t hesitate to use them. Hence, even Jeff Samardzija has his spikes on for Tuesday, just in case.

“If I used Rodriguez, then Samardzija would start in his spot,” Bochy said.

Rodriguez last pitched on July 6, so would be pitching on more than regular rest if he started any day after Wednesday. Samardzija started on July 7, so would be pitching on regular rest if he started Thursday.

“I talked to [Samardzija] today, so it all depends how it goes,” Bochy said. “There’s a good chance, yes, but like I said, it’s all hands on deck, because I’ve got some guys that need a break today in the bullpen. Similar to what we did with Holland — we pulled him out, he helped in the pen, and it worked out well.”

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Giants “end-of-the-line” bullpen arms are Tony Watson and Ty Blach, who has pitched two games in a row. After Monday’s 11-inning game, the rest of the relievers are on a shorter leash, hence the possibility that starters could relieve. Sam Dyson, who has thrown twice in the last week, and four times in the last 10, will be available.

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Buster Posey was given the day off on Tuesday, and will catch Wednesday’s 12:45 p.m. game. Gorkys Hernandez, who was held out of Monday’s game with a tight left calf, will start and lead off in center.

Alen Hanson — who got a forearm burn sliding into home after scoring from first on an errant pickoff on Monday — is good to go, but Chase d’Arnaud will start at second base with the left-hander Quintana on the hill. Hanson is hitting .158 against lefties this season.

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Injured Giants second baseman Joe Panik will be out up to three weeks with his “mild to moderate” left groin strain. He’s “taking it day to day,” he said, and hopes to begin moving around this weekend. It’s the first time a groin strain has ever put him down.

“It’s gotten better,” Panik said. “Every day I’m doing a whole lot of treatment … that’s all you can really do until the muscle heals.”

Panik strained his groin rounding second in the fourth inning of Friday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals. He said he knew right as he was rounding second and heading to third.

No muscle was pulled off the bone, Panik said.

That wasn’t the case when Yasiel Puig ran into him on the base paths down in Los Angeles on April 27. That collision took Panik out for just over a month, and necessitated get surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament.

“We have a lot of season left, is how I try to look at it,” Panik said. “That’s all you can ask for. The way this team’s been playing, we have a shot to make a run.”

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As Panik spoke with reporters, Nick Hundley — getting the start in place of Posey — chastised Panik for not wearing the “Belt the Ballot” t-shirts worn by almost every Giant in the clubhouse, including the barefoot Brandon Belt, a candidate for the Final Vote to determine the last man on the National League All-Star roster.

Belt said on Monday that there’s a little extra juice since he’s competing with Los Angeles Dodgers utility man Max Muncy, who has 20 home runs and will participate in the Home Run Derby. If any city can help him get over the hump — as he did in 2016 — it’s tech-savvy San Francisco, he said.

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Closer Hunter Strickland, who punched a clubhouse door and broke his hand after a June 18 blown save, got pins taken out of his right fifth metacarpal on Tuesday. He will begin rehab activities soon.

With Strickland’s move to the 60-day disabled list, he’s projected to come back about the middle of August.

“I think he’ll be right in that area,” Bochy said.

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As he did on Monday, third baseman Evan Longoria again took grounders at third as he recovers from his broken left (glove) hand.

“He’s really coming along very well,” Bochy said.

Longoria told the Examiner on Monday that he’s going to be back very close to his projected return date, if not earlier. He was projected to miss 6-8 weeks after being hit in the hand by a Dan Straily pitch on June 14, but he’ll likely come back closer to the six-week mark.

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