AT&T PARK — Madison Bumgarner will start Tuesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks, manager Bruce Bochy announced before Friday’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Giants ace, sidelined since spring training due to a broken left pinky finger, has made two rehab starts, and is ready to re-join the big club. Bumgarner struck out eight over 3 2/3 hitless innings for Triple-A Sacramento on May 26, and then struck out seven in 4 2/3 frames for Single-A San Jose against Visalia on Thursday.
“He’s all set to go Tuesday,” Bochy said. “Talked to him in the office, and he’s doing great. Set to go.”
Bumgarner was sent to the disabled list when he took a line drive from Kansas City Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield on March 24. He had three pins inserted into the finger, but since having them removed on April 20, he has been able to both swing and throw without any difficulty.
With Bumgarner returning to the rotation, Ty Blach will be moved to the bullpen as San Francisco’s long man. Dereck Rodriguez will start on Sunday. The son of Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez, Dereck Rodriguez started his first Major League game at Colorado on May 29, but had to be removed after 3 1/3 innings, after taking a line drive off his right leg.
“He came in, he threw strikes with all his pitches, he showed good poise,” Bochy said. “That’s a tough place to pitch in, Colorado, but he didn’t seem fazed by it. He’s a four-pitch guy, who has command of all of them. He pitched well at Sacramento, and did a nice job in the short stint there in Colorado.”
Erstwhile closer Mark Melancon is expected to be activated on Friday, before the game, as San Francisco has to make room on the 40-man roster.
UPDATE 7:09 PM: Melancon has been activated. RHP Jose Valdez has been activated off the 10-day disabled list, and has been designated for assignment to make room for him.
In five MLB innings, Valdez has allowed three long balls among eight total base hits. He has a 6.34 ERA in 55 1/3 total frames over four seasons.
Panik at the Disco
In more immediate news, the Giants had Joe Panick set to start at second base on Friday, his first game back from thumb surgery, which he underwent on April 30 after colliding with Yasiel Puig and damaging the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb.
“I talked to Joe, and he’s set to go, and it’s good to have one of your guys back,” Bochy said. “He was leading off for us before he left, and always good to get those guys back.”
Before Panik was injured, he hit .267 with a .323 on-base percentage and a .712 OPS, with three home runs and 11 runs scored.
Alan Hansen — who replaced Panik when he went down — is not expected back within the next two or three days, Bochy said. He is continuing his rehab.
It’s Pablo’s World, We’re Just Living in It
To make room for him, San Francisco optioned Kelby Tomlinson to Single-A San Jose (where he’ll be for a couple days before joining Triple-A Sacramento), meaning the Giants are without a true backup shortstop to Brandon Crawford. Panik could play short in a pinch, if something happened to Crawford, but Pablo Sandoval, who played second base for three innings five days ago in Chicago, was set to take grounders at shortstop before Friday’s game.
“He is our utility guy,” Bochy said. “It’ll give us coverage in case something happens. Now, I gave you the two different options because we could weaken two positions, or have one guy there and leave Joe where he’s at. That’s a decision that won’t be made until we take a look at Pablo taking balls at short.”
Sandoval does have quick feet and good hands, but his range would be severely limited, something of which Bochy is keenly aware.
“He has a pretty good first step, though, and I thought in Chicago, he showed some quickness there,” Bochy said.
Pence to be Activated
Outfielder Hunter Pence — who has been out since April 19 (thumb) and re-engineered his swing at Triple-A Sacramento — will be activated on Saturday. He will serve as the fourth outfielder, with Mac Williamson taking the lion’s share of the reps.
Since returning from a concussion, Williamson has hit .261 in six games, but started the season hitting .316 (6-for-19) with three home runs in his first five games.
Pence was hitting .197 this season before the injury, but is a .281 hitter over the course of his 12-year career.
“I’ll try to get him in there as much as I can, with playing time, late in the game, just like you would with a normal fourth outfielder,” Bochy said.
Pence, who hit .301 in 25 games with the River Cats with one home run and four doubles, will arrive in San Francisco some time Friday evening.