SAN FRANCISCO -- Bruce Bochy said the Giants "were in a box" when it came to Friday's roster decisions. Bobby Evans preferred to look at it a different way.
"There's always a puzzle piece," Evans said.
Evans, Bochy and the rest, found a way to game the system a bit Friday and keep some flexibility without losing any players. Matt Cain was placed on the DL to clear a roster spot for Chris Heston, who takes the struggling Cain's rotation spot. Angel Pagan was sent back out on a rehab assignment even though he's healthy and came to the park Friday expecting to play. Evans talked to Pagan and said the veteran agreed to wait until Sept. 1 to be activated. That means the Giants can add players Tuesday and they won't have to send anyone down this weekend and then wait for 10 days for that player to return.
Juan Perez was the candidate to be sent down for Pagan, but Perez is the only backup infielder right now because Kelby Tomlinson and Ehire Adrianza are already starting. On that front, there is good news. Brandon Crawford is expected to return Monday, although he took grounders and played catch Friday and it wouldn't be a shock if the competitive shortstop found a way to return this weekend from an oblique strain. Joe Panik will start a rehab assignment Tuesday if all goes well, and that could have him back with the big league club on the next road trip at some point.
[RELATED: Giants place Cain on DL, call up Heston]
As for Cain, he'll miss at least 15 days. You figure Cain would push through the right elbow nerve irritation if the Giants needed him to, but his rotation spot has been up for grabs for a few starts now. Cain is hurt, too, and he had an MRI and got a cortisone shot. He said he had "an achy feeling" after his last start and he admitted the state of his elbow has led to some arm-slot issues. The good news: The MRI came back clean aside from the irritation. That's a relief for a pitcher who had forearm tightness this spring.
"It looked really good," Cain said of his elbow. "To hear back from (Dr. Ken) Akizuki and hear it looked good, that's really nice."
Bochy said he doesn't know if Cain will return as a starter or reliever.
"I'll do whatever these guys need," Cain said. "Whatever we've got to do to get to the postseason, I'm up for it. That's what this group is about."
Some other housekeeping notes on a busy day ...
--- We didn't get a chance to talk to Heston before he was optioned out, but I chatted with him today and he said he feels the rest period will do him some good in the long run. He admitted he wasn't originally thrilled about the move because he wants to compete, but he pointed out that the staff has a long track record of success and he was willing to do whatever was needed.
--- Pagan will play two games for the San Jose Giants and then one more for the River Cats.
--- The Tim Lincecum update: "He's rehabbing ... he's not close," Bochy said. I've thought all along that Lincecum would return Sept. 1 and eventually get into a game, probably at home, but it's sounding a bit iffy lately.
--- Just a look ahead: Madison Bumgarner vs. Zack Greinke on Tuesday. Yep.