Re­hab dis­as­ter avoided

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - GIANTS - By Henry Schul­man Henry Schul­man is a San Francisco Chron­i­cle staff writer.

In a year al­ready pock­marked with in­juries, one Gi­ant nearly can­ni­bal­ized an­other Thurs­day. Closer Mark Me­lan­con was throw­ing his first live bat­ting prac­tice since he was di­ag­nosed with a flexor strain. At bat was Mac Wil­liamson, who is re­cov­er­ing from a con­cus­sion.

Me­lan­con tried to go in­side with one of his 20 pitches and ac­ci­den­tally hit Wil­liamson on the wrist. Wil­liamson was fine. In fact, he hit a liner to left on a sub­se­quent pitch.

Wil­liamson said Me­lan­con threw all four of his pitches, worked both sides of the plate and pitched with pur­pose.

“I stood in when he threw a bullpen the other day. To­day, I could see a com­pet­i­tive fire that was just dif­fer­ent,” Wil­liamson said.

On Sun­day or Mon­day, Me­lan­con is ex­pected to be­gin what will be a two-week mi­nor-league re­hab stint. Wil­liamson seems

on track to start around the same time, though his term in the mi­nors de­pends on how he is swing­ing.

“We’d like to get him to how he was swing­ing the bat,” man­ager Bruce Bochy said.

The picture of when some of these guys will re­turn is com­ing into fo­cus. Wil­liamson could be back be­fore month’s end, with Me­lan­con right be­hind him.

Madi­son Bum­gar­ner is sched­uled to make his first mi­nor-league re­hab start for Triple-A Sacra­mento on May 26. If he pitches three times in the mi­nors, he would be on track to re­turn around June 11, in the midst of a 10-game trip to Wash­ing­ton,

Miami and Los Angeles. If he pitches any­time from the 10th to the 12th he could make his sec­ond start at Dodger Sta­dium. What are the odds he would miss that chance?

Sec­ond base­man Joe Panik made some pos­i­tive news Thurs­day, too, when he swung a bat and took ground­balls for the first time since surgery to re­pair his torn left thumb. He is sev­eral weeks from re­turn­ing, how­ever, as is pitcher Johnny Cueto.

Briefly: Bran­don Belt said he has not heard from the league about his com­ments Wed­nes­day crit­i­ciz­ing home-plate um­pire Doug Ed­dings af­ter Belt took a called third strike to end a 6-3 loss to the Reds. A fine is likely. … Hunter Pence’s re­hab as­sign­ment can­not be longer than 20 days, not count­ing the time the Giants paused it. There is one way to ex­tend his time in Sacra­mento to al­low him to con­tinue work­ing on a swing he de­vel­oped af­ter vis­it­ing the same pri­vate hit­ting coach who helped Wil­liamson over the win­ter. Pence still has all three mi­nor-league op­tions and could ac­cept one if asked. His ten­ure al­lows him to re­ject be­ing op­tioned.

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