SAN FRANCISCO -- Hunter Pence was pretty active again Sunday morning as he continued his rehab from hamstring surgery. While Pence appears ahead of schedule, the Giants know they'll be without him for at least a few more weeks, and for the most part Gregor Blanco has gotten the time in place of Pence.
But at long last, the Giants have seen significant growth from their young backup options, the two players who spell Blanco and Angel Pagan occasionally. Mac Williamson had three hits Thursday and hit his second homer of the month. Jarrett Parker is 8-for-14 over his last eight games, showing a better approach than his first few go-arounds, when he was often homer-or-nothing.
The mini-runs have made Bruce Bochy feel a bit better about bringing both young outfielders off the bench. He doesn't like giving young players that role, but the Giants hope Parker or Williamson or both can develop and give them another threat when Pence returns.
"They're more confident," Bochy said. "With the situation they're in and getting the occasional start and pinch-hitting, it's not an easy job for young players. Each time they come up it's a good experience and a learning experience. They're learning how to control their emotions better. They go back down and think they should have done this or that. Every time they come up here, I think it should help them."
The odds are good that one or both of the young outfielders will end up back in Sacramento at some point, but there's a sense that the Giants feel better about their depth than they did even a couple weeks ago. In talking to team officials, there is a real pride that comes out when talking about those two. The Giants will look to add depth at the deadline, but don't automatically pencil them in for an outfielder. They like what they've seen from Parker and Williamson recently.
--- Matt Cain threw a 36-pitch bullpen session in the morning and will face hitters here on Tuesday. If that goes well, Cain could start a rehab assignment as soon as Friday. Bochy wouldn't say whether that'll be one start or multiple. The Giants certainly will be more careful with Cain's hamstring this time around.
--- Today is just a scheduled day off for Joe Panik.
--- The Giants haven't lost a series to the Phillies since 2013.
--- Bochy remains one win from becoming the fourth Giants manager to reach 800 wins with the team. The others: John McGraw (2,583), Dusty Baker (840) and Bill Terry (823).
--- Finally, a Brett Pill update! There is a journalist visiting from South Korea and he said Pill is extremely popular there, even writing first-person stories for a local news outlet. Pill has made a nice living over there, and he's playing well, too. In three seasons playing for Kia, Pill has a .315/.365/.517 line with 54 homers and 225 RBI.