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Belt out at least six weeks with broken thumb

LOS ANGELES -- Giants first baseman Brandon Belt is expected to be sidelined for at least six weeks after suffering a broken left thumb during San Francisco's 3-1 victory on Friday night over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy issued the estimate for Belt's absence, which could become clearer on Saturday. Bochy said that's when Belt, 26, is scheduled to return to San Francisco to visit a hand specialist. Belt incurred the injury when he was hit on the hand by an 87-mph fastball from Dodgers left-hander Paul Maholm on the first pitch of the second inning.

Belt's injury tempered the Giants' excitement over their 12th triumph in 15 games overall and sixth in eight games this year against the rival Dodgers.

"It's the old bittersweet thing," Bochy said.

Belt's batting .264 and ranks among the National League leaders with a team-high nine home runs, clobbering at least one in each city where the Giants have played this year (Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Denver, Atlanta and Pittsburgh). Belt also has contributed solid defense.

Bochy called losing Belt "a blow for us. [He's] a guy who hits in the heart of our order; the job he does at first base. You realize you lost him for about six weeks, probably."

Said left-hander Madison Bumgarner, "It stinks for all of us, especially him. Just a tough thing to go through. He's going to be facing some adversity right now, but he'll come out of it fine and hopefully we can fight through it until he gets back."

Bochy planned to talk with general manager Brian Sabean about the Giants' options for replacing Belt, who started 32 of the club's first 36 games. Bochy mentioned playing catcher Buster Posey, who has started four games at first base, more frequently at that position. Bochy also raised the possibility of integrating catcher Hector Sanchez and left fielder Michael Morse into the first-base mix.

Sanchez looked sharp in a Cactus League appearance at first base. Morse hasn't played the position this year but has appeared in 130 games at first during his Major League career, starting 100.

The Giants recently reacquired Travis Ishikawa, who started 25 games at first base for the 2010 World Series-winning club. But since Ishikawa is not on the 40-man roster, summoning him to the Majors from Triple-A Fresno would require removing a player from the 40-man contingent. One possible reinforcement from Fresno who Bochy did mention was Adam Duvall, whose primary position has been third base.

Friday, utility man Joaquin Arias replaced Belt, who remained in the game to run the bases after he was hit but departed before the Giants went out on defense.

Chris Haft is a reporter for Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat.
Read More: San Francisco Giants, Brandon Belt