Rehab disaster avoided
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.