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Notes: Aurilia could hit disabled list

Notes: Aurilia could hit disabled list

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BOSTON -- Manager Bruce Bochy strongly hinted Sunday that infielder Rich Aurilia will have to be placed on the 15-day disabled list with lingering neck problems.

"That's certainly a possibility at this point," Bochy said before the Giants' Interleague finale against the Boston Red Sox.

After the Giants' 9-5 loss, trainer Dave Groeschner echoed Bochy by noting that Aurilia's discomfort returned even after he received cortisone shots last Monday.

"This might be an issue where we just need more prolonged rest. That's something we're going to discuss," Groeschner said.

Aurilia, 35, began experiencing discomfort in mid-May with spasms in his upper shoulders that made his neck stiff and sore. The problem, which never entirely subsided, flared up again last week and forced him to miss four games. Aurilia returned to the lineup Saturday and went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, dropping his batting average to .236.

With Ryan Klesko and Mark Sweeney available to play first base, the Giants wouldn't necessarily need to summon a first baseman from the Minor Leagues if Aurilia were sidelined. Bochy also mentioned third baseman Pedro Feliz as a candidate to play first, although he said, "I don't want to take him out of a position he's playing well."

Outfielder Daniel Ortmeier, who returned to Triple-A Fresno last Monday after a stint with the Giants, conceivably could return. The Giants' 40-man roster is at its limit, making first baseman Travis Ishikawa and shortstop Eugenio Velez the only other possibilities for promotion among position players. Velez was batting .344 in 25 games and Ishikawa was hitting .214 with Double-A Connecticut entering Sunday.

"We're going to look at all of our options and stay open-minded," Bochy said.

Noah's arc: Noah Lowry, who starts Monday's series opener at Milwaukee, is relatively content with his pitching. But he's not so pleased with his extracurricular activities, so to speak.

Lowry, who handles a bat better than most pitchers, played right field on June 8 against Oakland as part of the Giants' crazy 10th-inning position switch and struck out to end the game. He also struck out as a pinch-hitter last Wednesday against Toronto.

"It's kind of disappointing, to tell you the truth," Lowry said. "I'm being put in a situation that's out of the norm for me. But I'm put in that situation because they obviously think I have a chance to succeed. I haven't, and that's frustrating. ... I expected more out of myself."

On the brighter side, Lowry (6-5) needs only one more victory to match his 2006 total. Remaining healthy has helped; a strained right oblique hampered him at the start of last season. Lowry also attributed his improvement to his slider, which complements his fastball/changeup combination. This has sharpened Lowry's overall command, although his walk total (39 in 83 1/3 innings) might not reflect it.

"The more I take the ball and continue to work on refining my game, the better it's going to become," Lowry said. "I definitely don't think I'm at the best I can be, but I feel like I'm getting better."

Not-so-fond memories: Tim Wakefield's impending appearance for Boston prompted Bochy, a former Major League catcher, to recall his experience with handling knuckleball pitchers. Few of his memories were positive.

Bochy said that he and Alan Ashby, his fellow catcher with the Houston Astros, would check the lineup card anxiously whenever knuckleballer Joe Niekro was due to pitch.

"That's almost like the game became no fun, when you had to catch a knuckleballer," Bochy said. "You become a goalie, really. When a knuckleball pitcher has a good one going, there's not a tougher job in baseball."

Coming up: The Giants begin a three-game road series Monday against the Milwaukee Brewers, leaders of the National League Central. Lowry will oppose either Yovani Gallardo or Carlos Villanueva, both right-handers, at 5:05 p.m. PT.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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