SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants cleared the way for Jonathan Sanchez to rejoin the starting rotation next Monday by optioning right-hander Matt Palmer to Triple-A Fresno after Tuesday's 7-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies.
Palmer, who fell to 0-2 with an 8.53 ERA after allowing five runs (four earned) in 4 1/3 innings, made three starts for Sanchez, who had been sidelined by a strained left shoulder. But Sanchez threw pain-free off a bullpen mound Tuesday and expects to repeat the exercise Friday.
The Giants replaced Palmer by recalling right-hander Osiris Matos, who was 0-2 with a 4.05 ERA in 13 games during a previous stint with San Francisco. Matos' stay could be brief, since the Giants must demote a pitcher when Sanchez is activated.
Also, left-hander Noah Lowry continued his recovery by throwing 30 pitches -- fastballs and what he called a "handful of changeups" -- off a bullpen mound. This represented progress for Lowry, who flung 20 pitches Saturday in his first bullpen session since undergoing forearm surgery March 7.
"I'm taking steps in the right direction. It's encouraging," Lowry said. "I'm just trying to get a good feel for the mound again and work on my fastball location."
Lowry's likely headed for the Giants' instructional-league camp next month en route to winter ball, as he told MLB.com last week. He hasn't ruled out making a late-season appearance for the Giants if all goes well. That would be an incredible lift not only for Lowry, but also for his teammates.
"It'd be huge for him to go into the offseason and have that out of the way," right-hander Matt Cain said.
In another injury-related matter, catcher Bengie Molina remained in the lineup, although his left hand that absorbed multiple foul tips Monday remained sore and swollen.
Molina acknowledged that such physical abuse is part of the job, but added, "This year has been the worst. I don't know what I'm doing wrong or if I'm doing something wrong." He explained that he keeps his gloved palm open as he awaits the ball, then begins to close his hand as the pitch approaches. The foul tips tend to strike his hand at that point, when it's slightly cupped.
Asked if catching a staff featuring so many strikeout-oriented pitchers could be a factor, since hitters might tend to make less authoritative contact and therefore tip more deliveries, Molina said this could be a possibility.
"Catching very young, talented guys, that can happen," Molina said. "[Hitters] are going to barely touch it. Sometimes they just tip the ball and that's when you get it."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.