SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants are close to determining whether third baseman Pablo Sandoval's ailing right elbow can heal quickly enough to enable him to participate in the April 1 season opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said that Sandoval, who's trying to recover from inflammation in his ulnar nerve and cope with a bone spur in the back of his elbow, tried playing light catch Saturday but stopped upon feeling discomfort.
Bochy said that he wasn't yet ready to declare that Sandoval should begin the season on the disabled list. But the next 24 hours could be critical.
"If he's not showing improvement tomorrow, I'll probably be worried," Bochy said Saturday.
Bochy said in response to a question that surgery "has not been discussed at all" for the 26-year-old Sandoval, whose injury history includes fractured hamate bones in both hands and left foot, left hamstring and right shoulder maladies.
Bochy still hopes that he can field San Francisco's projected starting lineup, which features Sandoval batting third and playing third base, in a couple of games during the Bay Bridge Series next weekend against Oakland.
Injuries to key performers have jarred most of San Francisco's National League West rivals. Arizona center fielder Adam Eaton, Los Angeles shortstop Hanley Ramirez and San Diego third baseman Chase Headley are expected to be sidelined for a month or longer. The Giants have no desire to join this group by losing Sandoval, the Most Valuable Player of last year's World Series who was batting .435 in Cactus League play before being sidelined last week.
Two other Giants are closer to regaining full health. Bochy said that second baseman Marco Scutaro (lower back) wanted to play Saturday but was ordered to rest for at least another day. Switch-hitting catcher Hector Sanchez (right shoulder) has resumed swinging from both sides of the plate and throwing. Bochy said that Sanchez might be able to catch in a game in two or three days.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.