SAN FRANCISCO -- Is Hunter Pence 100 percent? Is he being rushed? The message Tuesday evening was that it doesn't really matter.
The Giants activated Pence before the second game against the New York Mets, sending outfielder Ryan Lollis back to Triple-A to clear a roster spot. Pence has impressed while taking BP the last three days and wanted to return, and Bruce Bochy wasn't about to send his right fielder to the minors for a rehab game or two. The Giants have five games before the All-Star break and Bochy was ready to add some power and energy to a lineup that has lost seven straight games.
"At this point we need some help and he's been cleared by the doctors," Bochy said. "Why not play here? I don't think we're taking away a big bat by playing him here."
Later, Bochy added: "It's not like we're tearing the ball up. His presence means more here."
[PAVLOVIC: Giants lineup: Pence returns, batting fourth]
Bochy admitted that things might have been different had his team been on a seven-game winning streak, and they also would have been different if others were contributing. But Justin Maxwell has just four hits in his last 37 at-bats, Angel Pagan has one extra-base hit in his last 23 games, and Brandon Belt is hitting .195 in his last 22 games. With Buster Posey set for a scheduled day off Tuesday and others also looking worn down, putting Pence in the cleanup spot was an easy choice.
Two other things were at play here ...
1. The Giants didn't think a rehab assignment would help Pence ease back in. "He's going to play the same down in Sacramento as he would here," Bochy said of Full Throttle.
2. The schedule helps, with the Giants off Thursday and the All-Star break starting Monday. Bochy said Pence will play two, take a day off, play three and then take four days off at the break like the rest of the non-All-Stars. "The break is going to be good for him," Bochy said.
The Giants don't believe this week will lead to a setback or additional tendinitis, and the hope is that Pence is ready to rock when the second half starts. If he can help over the next five games, all the better.
--- Bochy said Nori Aoki should be back within the first two weeks after the All-Star break. Aoki (fractured fibula) is still in a cast.
--- Changes may be coming in the bullpen, although none were announced publicly. Bochy said only that he met with pitching coach Dave Righetti and they've talked about "starting to match it up the best we can" in the late innings. An interesting note: Josh Osich was mentioned as one guy who could get late-innings work.
For the time being, the Giants won't simply hand a lead to struggling right-handers Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla.
"It's fair to say those guys are having their hiccups," Bochy said.
--- Bochy was asked: "What's one thing you'd like to see from Matt Cain tonight?"
"'I'd like to see him in the seventh," he said, smiling.