SAN FRANCISCO -- Mired in a month-long slump, the Giants could use a boost. It appears one will arrive Friday.
That's when second baseman Marco Scutaro is slated to return to the club. He'll be evaluated Friday and the hope/plan is for the 38-year-old to be activated before Friday night's game against Arizona. Scutaro (lower back strain) had an off-day Wednesday but is scheduled to play nine innings for Triple-A Fresno on Thursday.
If all goes well, Scutaro will make his 2014 Major League debut Friday. There's a chance the return will have to wait until Saturday, but Friday is the new target date. He'll likely be back in his traditional two-hole spot, too. Manager Bruce Bochy said there's a "very strong possibility of that" when asked about Scutaro batting second. Bochy said Scutaro is optimistic that he can play with more regularity than the original workload of two or three starts per week they had envisioned.
Bochy isn't concerned about Scutaro's .158 average (3-for-19) in eight rehab games between the Rookie-level Arizona Giants and Fresno.
"He feels pretty comfortable," Bochy said. "From looking at the reports, he's swinging free and easy, and that's what's important to us. He's got the type of stroke where I don't think he needs lots of at-bats, but he'll be honest with us when he gets here Friday."
Bochy said he's had discussions internally with general manager Brian Sabean regarding the corresponding move to make room for Scutaro's return, but those conversations will stay between manager and general manager for now. Joe Panik could be sent back to Triple-A, or the Giants can opt for Panik to stay and learn under Scutaro's tutelage, which would likely result in designating Brandon Hicks for assignment.
As for Angel Pagan, Bochy said his injured leadoff hitter flew to Arizona on Wednesday and will resume baseball activities as part of his rehab Thursday. The plan remains for Pagan to return shortly after next week's All-Star break.
Adrianza returns as Perez sent back to Triple-A
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants optioned outfielder Juan Perez to Triple-A Fresno after the team's 5-2 win against the A's on Wednesday night. Infielder Ehire Adrianza will be activated from the 15-day disabled list Thursday.
Perez has started nine games for the Giants this season with seven hits in 45 at-bats. The highlight of the 27-year-old's season has been a game-winning two-run home run against the Reds on June 4.
Adrianza has missed 15 games due to a right hamstring strain. In 46 games this season, he's hit .213 (16-for-75) with four RBIs. He'd shown improvements before getting hurt, though, as he hit .333 (6-for-18) with one RBI and two doubles in his last five games before the injury.
Giants could be interested in deal for Zobrist
SAN FRANCISCO -- The already active speculation about the Giants' interest in Tampa Bay handyman Ben Zobrist has increased.
Giants special assignment scout Pat Burrell recently was seen at Tropicana Field, where other San Francisco scouts have visited -- and not just when David Price pitches. The Giants have been mentioned as a potential suitor for Price, who's the top pitcher potentially available through trade now that Oakland has acquired Jeff Samardzija from the Cubs.
Zobrist, 33, also is viewed as a possible fit for the Giants. The two-time All-Star can play second base, where San Francisco likely will need depth even if Marco Scutaro overcomes his back injury. Zobrist also has extensive experience in the outfield, an area of some concern for the Giants due to the spotty offensive production from Gregor Blanco and Tyler Colvin.
Moreover, Zobrist is relatively affordable. His contract pays him $7 million this year and includes a $7.5 million team option for 2015.
The switch-hitting Zobrist is batting .268 with six homers and a .757 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) in 79 games this year, approximating his career numbers (.263, 110 homers in 997 games, .786 OPS).
The Rays are believed to have scouted the Giants' Double-A Richmond affiliate thoroughly, adding to the Zobrist/Price speculation.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. Ryan Hood is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanhood19. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.