SAN FRANCISCO -- John Bowker had one heck of a birthday Wednesday in Fresno. He doubled in his first at-bat for the Giants' Triple-A affiliate, then was told he was headed back to the big leagues.
San Francisco officially recalled Bowker on Thursday, adding a left-handed bat to the lineup as it begins a four-game series against the San Diego Padres leading up to the All-Star break.
"Obviously, it was awesome to hear that news. I'm happy to be here," said Bowker, who hit fifth and manned left field on Thursday. "Pretty good birthday present."
Unaware of his teammate's 26th birthday, locker neighbor Kevin Frandsen asked, "It was your birthday?" In fact, four former Fresno Grizzlies -- Nate Schierholtz, Frandsen, Bowker and Ryan Sadowski -- share a wing of the Giants' clubhouse.
To pave the way for Bowker's return to the 25-man roster, however, the Giants optioned Sadowski to Class A San Jose. The right-hander (2-1) opened his Major League career with 16 2/3 scoreless innings before his start Wednesday, in which he allowed three runs over 5 innings against the Florida Marlins.
Sadowski will start Monday against Visalia to keep his normal routine, as San Francisco won't require the services of a No. 5 starting pitcher until July 21.
"With our situation -- Sadowski not pitching for 10 days -- it couldn't really have worked out better to bring in Johnny and reward him for what he's done at Fresno," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It gives us a good look at Johnny out there on a consistent basis. ... I don't want Johnny coming up here to sit."
Bochy said Bowker will play every day, splitting time in left field with Randy Winn and at first base with Travis Ishikawa. Bowker said he moved from right field to left the past two weeks at Fresno and is also more confident with his defense at first.
But like the Giants' May 21 promotion of Jesus Guzman, Bochy and the brass were seeking a hitter.
In 80 games at Fresno this season, Bowker batted .347 with 17 home runs and 63 RBIs. He had an impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio (53 to 52), and his OPS (on-base-percentage plus slugging percentage) of 1.063 seems astronomical.
"Fresno is a good place to hit," the Sacramento native said. "I was just trying to improve my game, so when I did get the call, I'd be ready."
Bowker, third-round pick of the Giants in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, made his Major League debut in 2008 and batted .255 with 10 home runs in 111 games. In 34 at-bats against the Padres, he batted .176.
Bowker said his new "pitch-to-pitch mentality" has paid dividends.
"I'm able to deal with failure better, considering last year," he said. "Hopefully, my pitch selection will be better, have more consistency and quality at-bats."
Andrew Pentis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.