ATL@SF: Out call at first overturned in 7th inning

SAN FRANCISCO -- Hector Sanchez performed well enough in his regular-season debut at first base to remain part of the contingent filling in for injured Brandon Belt, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Wednesday.

Sanchez started Tuesday night at first base, a position he had played only once for the Giants -- and that was a Cactus League exhibition. His most challenging play was a throw to shortstop Brandon Crawford on Freddie Freeman's seventh-inning ground ball on an attempt to start a double play.

"He had a couple of plays that really don't come up a lot," Bochy said, adding that he still intends to use Sanchez and fellow catcher Buster Posey as occasional alternatives to Michael Morse, who's expected to receive most of the playing time at first while Belt's fractured left thumb heals.

Sanchez remained prepared for whatever comes his way.

"You never know what can happen," he said.

Bochy appreciated Sanchez's eagerness.

"He's not nervous," Bochy said, describing Sanchez's upbeat attitude about playing first.

Sore toe prompts Sandoval's early departure

ATL@SF: Sandoval makes diving stop, fires for out

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval left Wednesday's game against the Atlanta Braves after five innings with discomfort in his left big toe, manager Bruce Bochy said.

"I didn't want to take any chances," Bochy said. "He had said it was pretty sore."

Bochy sounded optimistic about Sandoval's availability for Thursday's series opener against the Miami Marlins.

"I think he'll be fine," Bochy said.

Before departing, Sandoval enjoyed a fruitful afternoon in the Giants' 10-4 victory. He went 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI, extending his hitting streak to five games. Batting .400 (8-for-20) during that stretch, Sandoval has lifted his batting average from .171 to .203, marking the first time he has exceeded .200 since he was at .250 (2-for-8) two games into the season.

"His swing has picked up in the last week," Bochy said of Sandoval, a two-time All-Star. "His point of contact is in a better place. He's a gifted hitter. It's a matter of time before he gets going."

Sandoval also contributed a sparkling defensive play in the second inning. He flung himself to his left to snare Ryan Doumit's ground ball, then straightened in time to make a strong throw to first base for the out.

"He's had a good attitude this whole time," Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner said. "If you came in the clubhouse, you wouldn't know whether he was hitting .400 or .100. We all knew he was going to come around. It's starting to turn around for him."

Knee 'fine,' Pagan gets planned rest

SF@LAD: Pagan's sliding catch robs Puig of a hit

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy expressed confidence Wednesday that center fielder Angel Pagan's sore right knee won't develop into a major concern as the season progresses.

Pagan wasn't in Wednesday's lineup against the Atlanta Braves, but Bochy said the 32-year-old's rest was planned before he experienced discomfort in the knee and left Tuesday night's game in the eighth inning. Bochy also declared Pagan available to pinch-hit.

Pagan has proven to be one of the most indispensable Giants. He entered Wednesday with a .322 batting average, ninth in the National League. His .371 on-base percentage and 1.3 WAR (wins above replacement), according to baseball-reference.com, ranked second among Giants regulars. Only Buster Posey exceeds him in both categories.

"I think he's fine," Bochy said of Pagan, who has started 35 of San Francisco's 41 games. "... An occasional day off is what serves him well. I don't see this being a major issue."

Bochy anticipated that Pagan will be able to play the entire four-game series against Miami beginning Thursday at AT&T Park.

Posey, Giants adjusting to plays at plate

ATL@SF: Freeman singles in Heyward on close play

SAN FRANCISCO -- Baseball's new video replay system is serving as a learning tool for the Giants, especially catcher Buster Posey, who gained insight during Tuesday night's 5-0 loss to Atlanta about handling plays at home plate.

Jason Heyward's success at sliding around Posey, turning what appeared to be a sure out into a run that launched Atlanta's three-run, sixth-inning rally, taught the Giants that nothing is certain. The new rules aimed at discouraging home-plate collisions that govern baserunners and catchers also are a factor. Forbidden in many cases by plowing through the catcher, runners have found novel methods -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy called them "creative" -- of hitting the dirt.

"I think you learn you can't assume it'll be an easy tag," Bochy said Wednesday, one day after Heyward tumbled around Posey. "... You realize that he's not going to slide into you and make it easy."

Posey acknowledged that he must be more "aggressive" in tagging baserunners.

A solution for catchers, Bochy said, is to "stay in an athletic position, a balanced position where you can move either way and make a move along with the runner."

The days of runners being called out just because a throw beats them to a base are over. This wasn't the case with Heyward, whose run was confirmed by video review. But just as catchers can't assume they'll be able to make a simple tag, nor can umpires assume an easy out will be made.

"With replay, you're going to see more calls overturned," Bochy predicted.