SAN FRANCISCO -- Attempting to stimulate Brandon Crawford's offense and revive a stagnant spot in the batting order, Giants manager Bruce Bochy inserted the rookie shortstop in the two-hole for the first time.

Crawford entered Sunday with one hit in his past 21 at-bats (.048), dropping his overall average to .182. Meanwhile, aside from injured second baseman Freddy Sanchez, San Francisco's second-place hitters were batting .226 (30-for-133) with no home runs and two RBIs.

"We're kind of searching for that No. 2 hitter, to be honest," Bochy said.

Crawford said that he welcomed batting second -- it's the berth he occupied in 2009, when he hit a combined .282 with high-Class A San Jose and Double-A Connecticut. He also hit second this year with San Jose.

"It's probably one of my favorite spots," Crawford said, pointing out that he can expect to see more fastballs if the leadoff batter gets on base and if the 3-4-5 hitters are producing.

"So I'll see better pitches and they won't pitch around me. Especially me right now," Crawford said, referring to his struggles at the plate.

Bochy pointed out that Crawford will be obliged to bunt and move runners over while batting second, which frees him from dwelling on his statistics.

"It helps him learn the game and relax a little bit," Bochy said.

Crawford, a superior defender, has started 23 of 30 games since being recalled from San Jose on May 26. He could be vulnerable to returning to the Minors once Mike Fontenot recovers from his strained right groin. Bochy acknowledged that if the Giants' decision-makers believed that Crawford would benefit from a demotion, it would happen. Bochy added that after Tuesday, when the Giants play a day-night doubleheader at Chicago, he would pick his spot for Crawford, which might help him on the offensive end.

"We don't want to slow down his development," Bochy said. "Because we think a lot of him. At the same time, I like the way he's handling everything thrown at him, including adversity."

Short break could be what Sanchez needs

SAN FRANCISCO -- While an injury to a pitcher isn't typically cause for relief, the Giants might be able to find some solace in the fact that Jonathan Sanchez's control problems weren't completely in his head.

Sanchez, placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with left bicep tendinitis, has walked a Major League-high 59 batters -- including 25 in his past 25 2/3 innings. The left-hander said after his last outing that he was healthy and felt fine, but he was just having trouble getting the ball over the plate.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Sunday that it was possible some of Sanchez's issues were caused by the lingering injury.

"When you have a little fatigue there and a little tendinitis, it's not only going to affect your stuff, but [also] your command," Bochy said. "It might also alter your delivery a little bit, because you're forcing [the ball] to get to a spot."

  • 131 wins
  • 121 wins

Sanchez said the tendinitis had been bothering him for his last few starts, and he was hoping to reach the All-Star break to give him time to recover, but it wasn't enough to keep him off the mound. Bochy said that's why Sanchez claimed to be feeling healthy after his start Friday, when he needed 94 pitches to get through 4 2/3 innings and walked six batters.

More than anything, as Bochy said Saturday, Sanchez simply needs a break to get his issues out of the way and regain his command so he can be effective down the road.

"He can pitch, to be honest. If we wanted to keep throwing him out there, we could," Bochy said. "We just wanted to get this cleared up. It's obvious we don't think he's 100 percent, but he is pitchable. It's not like he's pitching in pain."

Whiteside 'playable,' will catch in twin bill

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants' lengthy list of injured players is about to get a little shorter.

Catcher Eli Whiteside, out of the starting lineup for the fourth straight game while nursing a tight quad, was "playable" on Sunday, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. Chris Stewart once again got the start behind the plate in the finale with the Indians, but he and Whiteside will split catching duties during Tuesday's doubleheader against the Cubs.

"I could start [Whiteside], but I thought the best thing was to go ahead and let Stew have it today," Bochy said. "I'm going to need him for the doubleheader. This is probably giving him a nice break to let that quad completely clear up so we don't have anything setting him back."

After suffering a number of setbacks in his recovery from a left groin strain, utility man Mike Fontenot will head to Arizona on Monday to work with the Arizona League Giants, before joining Triple-A Fresno on Thursday to continue his rehab assignment. At that point, Bochy said, Fontenot could need "at least" a week's worth of at-bats before he's ready to rejoin the Giants. Fontenot has not played in the Majors since May 25 and was forced to back out of his first rehab assignment with Fresno after tweaking the injury.

Left-handed slugger Brandon Belt will join Fontenot in Arizona, though he isn't quite as close to returning. Recovering from a hairline fracture in his left wrist, Belt took soft-toss batting practice on Friday, but has yet to take BP on the field with the Giants. The highly touted prospect has been out since being hit in the wrist by a fastball from the Cardinals' Trever Miller on May 31.

Bochy reveres skippers McKeon, Johnson

SAN FRANCISCO -- By coincidence, both senior citizens who returned to the Major League managerial ranks in recent days significantly influenced Bruce Bochy's career.

Jack McKeon, the 80-year-old who returned to the helm of the Marlins, was the Padres' general manager when he signed Bochy as a free agent in 1983. Bochy, a former catcher, established himself as a player in San Diego, which propelled him into his managing and coaching career.

Davey Johnson -- now guiding the Nationals -- was a roving instructor with the Mets when Bochy played in their system at Triple-A Tidewater. Bochy credited Johnson with helping him sharpen his batting stroke.

"I really revere both of them and what they've done in the game," Bochy said. "That they're back on the field managing says a lot about how they love the game and have a passion for it -- and have taken care of themselves to where they can get back on the field. They still have that energy."

Bochy half-seriously suggested that McKeon was a pioneer for resuming his managerial career at his advanced age.

"Jack [raised] the bar," said Bochy, 56. "Fifteen years from now, if I'm not managing, I can always come back."