Hinshaw has earned his keep

Hinshaw has earned his keep

PHOENIX -- Left-hander Erick Threets was too valuable a commodity for the Giants to let go when the season began. But Alex Hinshaw's emergence could make Threets expendable.

Threets' injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Fresno is due to end Friday. But his return to the Giants isn't a given. Not with Threets having posted a 1-2 record and a 5.74 ERA in 10 outings in Triple-A, and not with Hinshaw having gone unscored upon in six outings since the Giants purchased his contract from Fresno on May 15.

Just a little more than two months ago, the Giants didn't want to risk losing Threets, who was out of Minor League options. He made the Opening Day roster and went 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA in seven appearances before a strained muscle in his right side landed him on the disabled list April 19.

Now, it appears that the Giants might have to trade Threets or otherwise cast him aside. Because manager Bruce Bochy indicated Thursday that jettisoning Hinshaw isn't an option.

"He deserves to be here," Bochy said of the left-handed Hinshaw. "He's a guy I won't hesitate to use late in a ballgame."

It has been an improbable ascent for Hinshaw, 25, who didn't begin pitching full-time until his senior year at Claremont (Calif.) High School and endured two serious elbow injuries. The first required Tommy John ligament replacement surgery in 2003 and the second sidelined him in June last season.

Hinshaw has tried not to dwell on his roster status.

"It crosses my mind, obviously, because nothing's really set in stone," he said. "But my main objective is to help the club win. That's the most important thing when you're up here. It's not necessarily, 'Oh, I gotta do well to stay up here.' "

Hinshaw wasn't invited to Major League camp in Spring Training, although he made three Cactus League appearances. He had no strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings -- contrasting sharply with his nine strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings for the Giants.

"I get up here," said Hinshaw, who has struck out at least one batter in each of his appearances, "and I don't know what's going on."

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