SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants are close to determining whether third baseman Pablo Sandoval's ailing right elbow can heal quickly enough to enable him to participate in the April 1 season opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said that Sandoval, who's trying to recover from inflammation in his ulnar nerve and cope with a bone spur in the back of his elbow, tried playing light catch Saturday but stopped upon feeling discomfort.
Bochy said that he wasn't yet ready to declare that Sandoval should begin the season on the disabled list. But the next 24 hours could be critical.
"If he's not showing improvement tomorrow, I'll probably be worried," Bochy said Saturday.
Bochy said in response to a question that surgery "has not been discussed at all" for the 26-year-old Sandoval, whose injury history includes fractured hamate bones in both hands and left foot, left hamstring and right shoulder maladies.
Bochy still hopes that he can field San Francisco's projected starting lineup, which features Sandoval batting third and playing third base, in a couple of games during the Bay Bridge Series next weekend against Oakland.
Injuries to key performers have jarred most of San Francisco's National League West rivals. Arizona center fielder Adam Eaton, Los Angeles shortstop Hanley Ramirez and San Diego third baseman Chase Headley are expected to be sidelined for a month or longer. The Giants have no desire to join this group by losing Sandoval, the Most Valuable Player of last year's World Series who was batting .435 in Cactus League play before being sidelined last week.
Two other Giants are closer to regaining full health. Bochy said that second baseman Marco Scutaro (lower back) wanted to play Saturday but was ordered to rest for at least another day. Switch-hitting catcher Hector Sanchez (right shoulder) has resumed swinging from both sides of the plate and throwing. Bochy said that Sanchez might be able to catch in a game in two or three days.
Familiar problems plague Lincecum vs. A's
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Tim Lincecum's performance Saturday against the Oakland A's was uncomfortably reminiscent of 2012. It included too much first-inning drama and too many walks.
Lincecum ultimately allowed five runs and six hits in three-plus innings as the Giants fell to the A's, 12-5. Bent on reversing last year's 10-15 record, Lincecum found some positive developments to build upon and flaws to address.
Lincecum struck out five, supporting his observation that his "stuff was moving around pretty well." But he yielded Yoenis Cespedes' two-run homer in the first inning on a hanging slider, issued a pair of walks to help the A's score in the third inning and yielded opposing pitcher Tommy Milone's fourth-inning single to prompt his removal from the game.
"I had some good moments and some pretty bad ones," said Lincecum, who surrendered a Major League-high 28 first-inning runs and walked a career-high 4.4 batters per nine innings last year.
Lincecum threw 80 pitches, which was good because it increased his stamina.
"I didn't feel like I was fatiguing," he said.
He struggled to repeat his pitching mechanics, which was bad because he couldn't locate his deliveries where he wanted.
"I'm letting batters get away. I'm not finishing guys off," he said.
Lincecum believed that consistency remained within reach.
"Confidence-wise, I know I can still get outs," he said. "It's not a matter of worrying about guys getting hits or being fearful of that. If I just make my pitches, I'll be good."
Buster Posey, who caught Lincecum for the second straight game, expressed support.
"Timmy's working his tail off," Posey said. "He's working between each start. He's in the weight room all the time. He knows what it's going to take. Just keep on grinding."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.