Jeff Samardzija, pictured on April 25, 2018, couldn't hold back the Astros on Wednesday. (Stan Olszewski/2017 Special to S.F. Examiner)

San Francisco Giants notebook: Mark Melancon not quite ready to close, Jeff Samardzija may have one more rehab start

AT&T PARK — San Francisco Giants starter Jeff Samardzija has completed his second rehab outing (right shoulder tightness), and although the Giants are being more cautious with the Shark than they were after his pectoral injury, it looks like he could re-join the big club very soon.

“We have not made that call yet, but I’ll have something tomorrow; we’re talking about it,” said manager Bruce Bochy.

Earlier this week, when asked about Samardzija’s progression, Bochy made a point of noting that the former Notre Dame tight end probably came back a bit too soon from his stint on the disabled list at the start of the season. Owing to Samardzija’s football player mentality and toughness, he thought he could get back, but wound up without his endurance, command or velocity.

In his last seven starts before going on the shelf again, he went 0-4 with a 7.63 ERA, and threw an average of just over 4 1/3 innings per start.

In his second rehab start with the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats, Samardzija allowed two earned runs on four hits in four innings, but struck out seven. In his first rehab start, he went three innings against Round Rock, allowing one hit and striking out four.

“He feels great, and he did go four-plus innings, so the question now is, we may want him to go a little bit more deeper, just to keep us covered and not to have to cover him so much when he comes back,” Bochy said.

*****

With left-hander ClaytonRichard on the mound for the San Diego Padres on Friday, both Joe Panik and Brandon Belt were given days off.

“Brandon is coming back, and he’s played quite a few in a row,” Bochy said of his first baseman, who has played in six games in a row following his stint on the disabled list, necessitated by an emergency appendectomy.

*****

Bochy continues to sing the praises of utility man Alen Hanson. He’s played second, short, third and last night, played in the outfield. Once a top-40 prospect with the Pittsburgh Pirates, he had never hit higher than .231 in a season. In 33 games with the Giants, Hanson is hitting .311 with 10 doubles, five home runs and 19 RBIs.

“That type of player is valuable,” Boche said. “He allows you to rest these guys, and plus the way he’s playing, you don’t think twice about that stuff.”

*****

After not being able to close things out in his first day replacing Hunter Strickland as the closer on Thursday, Sam Dyson is at the back of the line for relievers available on Friday.

“I’m going to stay away from him,” Bochy said of Dyson, who saved 14 games last year after Mark Melancon went down with injury. “Is he available? Yeah.But, what we say is, he’s at the end of the line. We’ll use everybody we can use up.”

Melancon — who returned June 3 from a right elbow flexor strain suffered this spring — has only thrown 7.2 innings since coming back from the disabled list, and has not yet thrown on back-to-back days. He threw against the San Diego Padres on Thursday.

Signed to a four-year, $62 million contract in 2017, Melancon has pitched a total of 37.2 innings over the last season and a half.

Whether he’s available back-to-back days now is, Bochy said, up to him.

“He’ll let us know after he throws today, he’ll let us know how he feels,” Bochy said. “There’s been a couple times where he’s thrown, and he says, ‘I’m good to go,’ so that’s there. It’s just a matter of if it’s there today. We won’t know until he throws.”

So, should the Giants encounter a save situation, Bochy would look at match-ups, and where his staff is at in the Padres order.

“We’ve got four guys who are used to pitching late in the game, when you look at Smitty (Will Smith), [Tony] Watson and Melancon,” Bochy said.

As for when Melancon returns to the closing role, Bochy said it depends on him.

“If he was in a position, as far as being healthy enough to handle the load of being the closer, that could be a heavy load at times,” Bochy said. “Two three games in a row, I don’t think he’s quite ready for that.”

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