Belt likely to start rehab stint this week

Belt likely to start rehab stint this week

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants first baseman Brandon Belt said Monday that his Minor League injury rehabilitation schedule ideally will lead to his activation from the disabled list on a day that's fit for a celebration: July 4 at San Diego.

Belt, whose recovery from a fractured left thumb has proceeded smoothly, hopes to return to action later this week as a designated hitter for Class A Advanced San Jose. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Belt could begin performing that duty as early as Wednesday, though that stint might not start until the weekend. More will be known after Tuesday, when Belt is expected to take swings off a pitching machine that will test his ability to handle high-velocity deliveries.

Once Belt demonstrates that he can swing capably, he'll join Triple-A Fresno to work his way toward playing full games.

"After sitting here for six-plus weeks," Belt said in the Giants clubhouse, "it's nice to see that the end is near -- in a good way."

Belt said he has felt "pretty normal," having maintained a diligent conditioning program to preserve his strength and stamina. Throwing, he added, is one of his few remaining challenges.

"I just have to get my shoulder back into shape," he said.

Belt said he doubts he'll wear any protective gear on his thumb when the time comes to face competitive pitching.

"I think those guards are more of a hindrance than a help," said Belt, who was injured May 9 when he was struck by a pitch from Dodgers left-hander Paul Maholm.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. Ryan Hood is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanhood19. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.