SAN FRANCISCO - The Giants have one of their tougher stretches coming up, with the Astros and Pirates at home followed by a trip to Dodger Stadium. If they get through the next nine games, they can fatten up against the Reds, Mets and Rangers, and they may finally be pretty close to healthy.
Brandon Belt took early batting practice at AT&T Park and fielded grounders, and he is about a week away from returning, manager Bruce Bochy said. Belt still needs to test his bruised knee by running on the field, but he said everything has gone well to this point and he's hopeful he'll be back soon. The Giants may bring Belt back without a rehab assignment.
Hunter Strickland (hand) started a rehab assignment with the San Jose Giants on Monday, but he cannot return until August 18 because the Giants placed him on the 60-day DL.
Jeff Samardzija threw 30 pitches in a bullpen session and will face hitters on Monday at Dodger Stadium. If that goes well, Samardzija (shoulder) will start his own rehab assignment. The Giants have said that Samardzija will need a lengthy minor-league stint as he tries to return for the third time this year, but they could speed the timetable up due to their big-league situation. They currently are without a fifth starter, with Ty Blach likely getting that spot when it comes back up.
Bochy is looking forward to adding three players back to a club that is still within striking distance in the NL West, but there's one player he definitely won't be getting back. Pablo Sandoval will have season-ending surgery on his hamstring on Tuesday morning. Bochy said he spoke to Sandoval.
"Hopefully he'll be around and helping keep guys upbeat, because he's so good at it," Bochy said. "He's a little down. He misses playing."
--- The Giants aren't the only team dealing with injuries, obviously. The Astros placed George Springer on the DL, where he joins Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. The Giants will face the reigning champs without three of their four best hitters.
--- Bochy dropped a "Flying Frenchman" nickname on Chase d'Arnaud while explaining how d'Arnaud was his emergency catcher on Saturday. D'Arnaud said he's actually only about three percent French, according to a test he once took, but the nickname was given to him earlier in his career. Bochy, who was born in France, liked it.
By the way, d'Arnaud played a pretty good prank on another member of the staff during batting practice. Ron Wotus whiffed on a foul ball the other day in Arizona and made the mistake of telling d'Arnaud, who got the video from a clubhouse employee and edited it into a short clip that was played on the scoreboard at AT&T Park while the Giants were taking grounders. Wotus was shown missing the ball about a dozen times.
--- AT&T Park was briefly on fire Monday afternoon. For the second time this year, a concession stand down the third base line lit up. You can find video on my Instagram story: @pavlovicNBCS.
--- The latest Power Rankings give updates on George Kontos, Matt Moore, Andrew Susac, Phil Bickford and other former Giants. Let's just say some of them aren't doing so well in other spots.