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Cueto's return could mean rest, 6-man rotation

MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SAN FRANCISCO -- When the Giants activate Johnny Cueto from the disabled list, they'll also have to activate their imaginations to accommodate the excess of starting pitchers who'll fill the rotation past the brim.

"It'll be up to us to get creative," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Tuesday.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- When the Giants activate Johnny Cueto from the disabled list, they'll also have to activate their imaginations to accommodate the excess of starting pitchers who'll fill the rotation past the brim.

"It'll be up to us to get creative," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Tuesday.

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The Giants could try resting a different starter through each turn in the rotation. The ballclub has a scheduled off-day each Thursday in September, giving Bochy opportunities to shuffle the rotation as neended.

Employing a six-man rotation -- with Cueto being slotted in somewhere among Jeff Samardzija, Matt Moore, Ty Blach, Madison Bumgarner and Chris Stratton -- is another option. Not long ago, the Giants might simply have replaced Stratton, their least experienced starter with Cueto. But Stratton has thrown 12 2/3 shutout innings in his last two starts.

Either of these adjustments would give each starter some extra rest, which is welcome at this juncture of the season -- particularly for a non-contending team such as the Giants.

Cueto (strained flexor tendon) remained on course for his return to the rotation by pitching three shutout innings in his injury rehabilitation start Tuesday for Triple-A Sacramento.

Cueto yielded three hits to Albuquerque, Colorado's Triple-A affiliate, while walking none and striking out one. The right-hander threw 32 strikes in 47 pitches. He's expected to make one more Minor League start before being activated from the DL.

Giants second baseman Joe Panik (concussion) joined Cueto in Sacramento's lineup and went 0-for-2 while playing five innings. Since Sacramento is idle Wednesday, Panik is expected to continue tuning up for his big league return with Class A Advanced San Jose, which plays at Visalia.

Tweet from @530athletics: .@SFGiants 2B Joe Panik says "none of the symptoms came back" during his @RiverCats rehab (concussion) start tonight. pic.twitter.com/nKCMPvyaDk

Parker's defense impresses Bochy

Entering Tuesday, Jarrett Parker raised his batting average from .237 to .276 during a seven-game hitting streak. Parker's improvement in left field, however, has particularly impressed Bochy.

"It's evident he's worked hard on his defense," Bochy said. "I like how aggressive he's been, coming up throwing. He's not afraid to make mistakes. Going toward the line, he's aggressive."

Video: PHI@SF: Parker fires home to nab Perkins

Noting that Parker has returned after a nasty collision with AT&T Park's left-field wall in April, Bochy added, "A lot of times guys are hesitant. They don't want to get hurt again. But he hasn't shown any of that."

• Giants right fielder Hunter Pence was scratched from Tuesday's lineup with a tight left hamstring. He missed 20 games from mid-May to early June with a strained left hamstring. Gorkys Hernandez replaced Pence.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

San Francisco Giants, Johnny Cueto, Chris Stratton