Bochy hopeful Sandoval will be ready for Opening Day
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SAN FRANCISCO – Giants manager Bruce Bochy remains hopeful that third baseman Pablo Sandoval will be ready for Monday’s regular season opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Sandoval was scheduled to undergo another heavy day of baseball activity Thursday, including throwing to test the inflamed nerve in his right elbow. He could play Friday in the Bay Bridge Series against the A’s.

“We have to be real cautious here,” Bochy said. “But with the progress made yesterday, if all goes well (Thursday), he could probably get some at-bats tomorrow.”

Joaquin Arias started at third base Thursday against the A’s and would likely get the call on Opening Day if Sandoval isn’t ready. Hunter Pence hit in the Panda’s No. 3 spot in the batting order Thursday.               

Bochy emphasized that it’s important Sandoval get in the lineup this weekend if he’s to face the Dodgers.

“It’s going to be critical that he gets at-bats, otherwise we’ll probably have to go another direction for a week or so,” Bochy said. “We know that and we’re prepared to do that. We’re hoping for the best for Pablo and that he is able to get those at-bats and feels good. But we can’t ever stop looking at the big picture here. It’s a long season and we’re not going to push him if we don’t think he’s ready.”

The Giants’ dilemma – Sandoval needs to play to convince the team that he’s ready for the regular season. But if he were to play Friday and suffer a setback and head to the disabled list, the Giants can’t backdate Sandoval’s DL stint, meaning they would be without him for about the first two weeks of the season.

Bochy mentioned the team is prepared to send Sandoval to Arizona to rehab and get more at-bats if indeed he isn’t ready.

“We always have the option to send him to Arizona,” the manager said. “ We know that, these are things we’ll talk about.”