NEW YORK -- Ray Durham's abdominal strain has improved considerably, prompting Giants manager Bruce Bochy to declare on Tuesday that the second baseman might be ready by Friday's opener of a four-game series at Philadelphia. "We're very optimistic," said Bochy, who sounded somewhat pessimistic over the weekend when he speculated that Durham's injury might force him onto the 15-day disabled list. Bochy doubted that Durham, who lightly performed baseball-related activities while missing his second game in a row, could return to action earlier than Friday. But, Bochy added, "With the progress that he's made, he could show up and be ready to go."
"If I said two days ago I'd be where I am today," said Durham, "I'd say, 'No way.'" Upbeat as he was, Durham, who ranks second on the team with 29 RBIs while mostly occupying the key No. 5 spot in the batting order behind Barry Bonds, maintained that he must continue to be careful with his injury, which he feels on his upper left side. "I'd hate to get out there and something happens in the first inning and I'm right back in here," Durham said in the Shea Stadium visitors' clubhouse, "and instead of taking that step forward, I took three steps back." No excuses: Although infielder Rich Aurilia continues to apply heat and ice packs daily to his neck, which has been constantly sore due to muscle spasms in his upper shoulders, he refused to attribute his uneven hitting to his injury. After batting .339 (21-for-62) in his first 16 games, Aurilia hit .160 (15-for-94) in his next 26 games to bring his average to .231 entering Tuesday. "By no means am I blaming my neck for me struggling," said Aurilia, who called his tailspin "one of the worst offensive months I've had in a long time." To cope, the 12-year-veteran is taking a basic approach: "Start over again today and worry about what I can do from here on out." Aurilia, a .278 lifetime hitter entering this season, has batted below .257 only once since he finished at .239 in his rookie season of 1996. He's coming off seasons of .282 and .300 with Cincinnati in 2005 and '06, respectively. Winn's wallop: Randy Winn's leadoff homer on Tuesday off Mets starter Oliver Perez was the 12th of his career and his first since last Aug. 24 off Cincinnati's Eric Milton. It also was the first this year by a Giants hitter. Roberts romps: Center fielder Dave Roberts joined teammates for early batting practice, marking the first time that he has hit on the field since undergoing arthroscopic left elbow surgery on May 11. Roberts also played catch with trainer Dave Groeschner at a distance of approximately 70 feet. "Hopefully, tomorrow it doesn't swell up on me and I can continue to be optimistic," Roberts said. "To get to the point where you're doing things game speed, that's another level." Roberts still hopes that he can rejoin the active roster before the six-week period that he was estimated to be sidelined, but he's also being realistic.
"As much as I say that I'm trying, you have to take it day to day," he said.Vote-magnet: Bonds wasn't in San Francisco's lineup on Tuesday, but he did rank second among National League outfielders in the first All-Star Game balloting results announced. Bonds has drawn 384,707 votes as of Tuesday, trailing overall leader Carlos Beltran of the Mets (586,815) and edging third-place Alfonso Soriano of the Cubs (382,619). Bochy said that it'd be entirely fitting for Bonds to be elected a starter, since the Midsummer Classic is to be played at AT&T Park on July 10. "It's my hope that he's there," Bochy said. "It'd be huge for the city and huge for baseball." Coming up: Wednesday will feature an excellent matchup of left-handers, San Francisco's Barry Zito (4-5) and New York's Tom Glavine (5-2), as the teams continue their series at Shea Stadium beginning at 7:10 p.m. ET.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.