SAN DIEGO -- Hunter Pence is no longer in San Diego.
"There's good news ... he left," manager Bruce Bochy said, smiling.
It's very good news. Pence is on his way to Round Rock (just north of Austin) to join the River Cats and begin his rehab assignment. He'll play five innings in right field on Saturday and five more on Sunday before taking a day off. The River Cats go from the Austin area (if they're not tweeting photos from the Salt Lick BBQ in Round Rock they're living wrong) to New Orleans, so Pence certainly chose a good time to start his rehab assignment.
Bochy said he wants Pence to get about 30 at-bats before returning to the big leagues, although it wouldn't be a terrible bet to think he comes in just under that. The River Cats return to Sacramento on Friday and it wouldn't be a shock to see Pence -- who last year cut short a rehab assignment but texting Bochy: "Don't you want a ridiculous weapon?" -- fly from New Orleans to New York in time to play a game or three against the Yankees. We'll see.
As for the guy who is from New York, Joe Panik should be ready for a rehab game on Sunday or Monday.
--- Matt Duffy said he tried running during the break and "it didn't go as poorly as I thought it would." Still, he was running at about 50 percent, so he's not close to a return.
"It's frustrating," he said. "As a baseball player, you want to get back out there."
The Giants are going slow on this one. There's no firm timetable for a return.
--- Cory Gearrin played catch the past two days and is doing well. He might be back before the end of this trip. What happens to the bullpen when Matt Cain and Gearrin are back on the roster? Bochy sure didn't sound like a guy ready to send Albert Suarez back down.
"We'll see where we're at when Cain comes back," he said. "He's pretty valuable. It's going to be a tough call whichever way we go."
The Giants could send an outfielder down when Cain is activated Wednesday since they'll play with a DH all week (no double-switches). At some point they'll have to make some tough calls, though. The backups have generally played well, but Cain, Gearrin, Pence and Panik will need four roster spots in the next 10 days or so.
--- Last time the Giants were here the Padres tried to mess with them by playing boy bands and Enya. The Padres got swept and Brandon Crawford thanked them for helping to pump him up. Today it was normal ballpark BP music.