Notes: Aurilia receives new treatment

Notes: Aurilia receives treatment

SAN FRANCISCO -- Rich Aurilia's name hasn't shown up on the disabled list this season, but the Giants utility man has been silently suffering the past five weeks and was visibly relieved on Tuesday that the end to the pain is in sight.

The severe neck pain and ensuing headaches that have plagued Aurilia since early May were rediagnosed and treated hopefully for good after Monday's game. Aurilia's stiff neck was originally thought to be the result of muscle spasms in his upper left shoulder, which may have contributed, but the problem is now diagnosed as fluid in his facet joints.

"Hopefully we found what was causing the problem and put the fire out," Aurilia said.

Aurilia received three "epidural like" shots down the left side of his neck after Monday's game. His neck was still a little stiff from the shots, but he said the headache was gone fore the first time in five weeks.

Aurilia said his neck wasn't completely to blame for his recent drop-off at the plate, but his average started falling right around the time his neck started hurting. Aurilia was batting .287 coming out of April, but he accumulated a .178 average for the month of May.

"Is it the all-in-all reason why I'm struggling? No. But was it a big contributing factor? Yes. Because I couldn't do what I'm normally able to do," Aurilia said.

Aurilia expects to be ready to play again on Friday, hopefully without the headache and pain.

Unexpected debut: Outfielder Nate Schierholtz's dreams came true one day sooner than expected. Schierholtz wasn't due for his first Major League start until Wednesday, but he was quickly added to the lineup when right fielder Randy Winn was scratched thirty minutes before the game with a strained rib cage.

Schierholtz got off to a good start, singling to right field in his first Major League at-bat and moving leadoff man Dave Roberts into scoring position.

Schierholtz grew up rooting for the Giants, and playing for his favorite team makes it just that much better.

"It's great to run out on the same field that I used to come to as a fan," Schierholtz said. "I'm really proud to be on this team."

Schierholtz made his Major League debut and recorded his first big-league putout on a Troy Glaus fly ball in the ninth inning on Monday, but he didn't get to bat.

"It feels good to be here and to see [Matt] Morris throw a complete game and Barry [Bonds] get a home run. I think I saw it all last night," Schierholtz said.

Schierholtz is expected start in right field on Wednesday and for much of the Boston series. Winn or Dave Roberts will start in left while Bonds is DH.

Little Giants: The Giants pitching is sharp in the Majors and below. San Francisco's farm system is stacked with talented young arms and Class A Augusta right-hander Ben Snyder is the most recently recognized.

The GreenJackets ace was the Giants' fourth pick in last year's First-Year Player Draft and was named South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week after winning his first two starts and striking out 14 while posting a 2.77 ERA. On Monday, Triple-A Fresno pitcher Chris Begg was named Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week after throwing the league's first shutout of the season.

All-Star art: The Giants will unveil Charles Fazzino's 3-D All-Star art on Wednesday at home plate before the game.

Fazzino, a famous 3-D pop artist, created a piece in commemoration of the 78th All-Star Game that will be played at AT&T Park on July 10. Fazzino will showcase more of his All-Star artwork in an exhibition from July 6-10 at the DHL All-Star FanFest at the Moscone Center West in San Francisco, where it will be available for public purchase. The art can also be purchased at www.jrgiants.org, and a portion of the sales will go to the Giants Community Fund.

On deck: Tim Lincecum (2-0, 4.26 ERA) will close out the Toronto series for the Giants opposite Blue Jays right-hander Dustin McGowan (2-2, 5.02) at 12:35 p.m. PT on Wednesday at AT&T Park.

Becky Regan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.