MILWAUKEE -- Dave Roberts still can't ignore the nagging discomfort in his left elbow, but at least it doesn't hurt anymore. "It's definitely a lot more serviceable than it was," Roberts said. "It was painful, but now it's just kind of, you've just got to try and work through [the discomfort]. But there's no pain, and that's what's important." Roberts battled bone spurs in his elbow all year before finally undergoing surgery May 11 to get them removed. He still didn't enjoy a full range of motion in his elbow right after he returned from the disabled list June 8, batting just .203 in his first 17 games back.
Since then, Roberts has streaked to a .333 average (18-for-54) in his 14 July outings entering Saturday's game. That includes a 3-for-6 showing in Friday's win over the Brewers that bumped his average up to .241. Discount Roberts' 1-for-12 showing in this week's four-game series against the Cubs, and he's hitting .405 in his other 10 games in July. "When I came back from my surgery, it still took a few weeks to kind of get my swing back and get my rhythm and timing," Roberts said. "It's starting to come back together." Despite his solid numbers lately, Roberts said he still hasn't regained full strength in his elbow. The leadoff spark plug said it's usually hard for players to get stronger during the season -- it's hard enough for them to maintain their muscle strength with all the wear and tear during the season. But Roberts is trying. He has spent extra time rehabbing his elbow with the Giants trainers, both with massage treatments as well as by spending more time stretching and lifting weights. "Unfortunately, I wasn't as productive as I would have hoped, but I've still got half a season left," Roberts said. "I want to finish the way I know I can." Hometown team -- sort of: Randy Messenger and his friends grew up adoring the Giants, who played just three hours away from their hometown of Reno, Nev. It seems the Giants have repaid him in a big way for his loyalty. San Francisco acquired Messenger in a May 31 trade that sent Armando Benitez to the Marlins, and since then, the burly right-hander has allowed just three earned runs in 22 1/3 innings (1.21 ERA). Messenger attributed his recent success to "being able to have people come out and see me whenever now, instead of having to make it only one series a year." "That's probably the only reason -- knowing I'm so close to family," Messenger said. "I guess I'm comfortable knowing I'm so close to home." Messenger shut down the Brewers with two innings of one-hit relief in Friday night's win. The 25-year-old has pitched 46 innings this season and is on pace for 76 innings, 15 2/3 more than his previous career high. But Messenger doesn't mind the workload. "I love it," Messenger said. "As soon as they call me and say, 'It's your turn to pitch,' I'm ready to pitch. I enjoy it. The more times I pitch, the better I feel." Back to starting: Giants manager Bruce Bochy said the club plans to move starter-turned-reliever Russ Ortiz back into the rotation at Triple-A Fresno to get him accustomed once again to logging several innings at a time. The Giants haven't decided on a role for Ortiz when he eventually returns to the club. But with 39 games looming in their next 39 days, the Giants could use a stretched-out Ortiz as a long man in the bullpen or even as a spot starter, if they need to. Ortiz tossed another scoreless inning in his second rehab outing at Fresno on Thursday. The right-hander will now pitch on an every-fifth-day routine, beginning with a Monday night start against Colorado Springs. "We've got a real hectic schedule coming up," Bochy said. "We want to have somebody stretched out and cover ourselves there. He'd be good long, short and starting, but having a guy stretched out gives us those options." The Giants haven't decided on a timetable for Ortiz's return, but it won't be within the next week. The Hammer's last shot: Nobody knows where No. 756 from Barry Bonds will end up, but the Brewers earlier this year managed to pinpoint the exact location of where Hank Aaron's final home run ball landed. The club recruited a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee engineering professor and his students to study video footage and identify the precise spot directly below where Aaron's No. 755 hit the stands. The Brewers then held a ceremony June 7 unveiling a plaque at the spot in one of Miller Park's parking lots. Aaron lately has not commented publicly about Bonds nearing his home run record, but he maintained his cool attitude about Bonds' chase at the ceremony. "I don't have any thoughts about Barry Bonds," Aaron said at the June ceremony. "I don't even know how to spell his name." On deck: Barry Zito (7-9, 4.67 ERA) will take the hill for Sunday morning's series finale against Claudio Vargas (7-2, 4.47) and the Brewers. Zito always has excelled in the second half and can boast of a 60-27 record with a 3.27 ERA in 109 career starts after the All-Star break.
Kelvin Ang is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.