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Tough choices await when Shark, Cueto return

MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy, rejuvenated after a prosperous fishing trip in Half Moon Bay on Monday's day off, will soon welcome a similar boost to his starting rotation.

Jeff Samardzija made his third rehab start for Triple-A Sacramento on Tuesday night, and Bochy expected the right-hander to throw up to about 90 pitches. Johnny Cueto will make his second rehab start in Sacramento on Friday.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy, rejuvenated after a prosperous fishing trip in Half Moon Bay on Monday's day off, will soon welcome a similar boost to his starting rotation.

Jeff Samardzija made his third rehab start for Triple-A Sacramento on Tuesday night, and Bochy expected the right-hander to throw up to about 90 pitches. Johnny Cueto will make his second rehab start in Sacramento on Friday.

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"He can go up to 70 pitches," Bochy said of Cueto.

Cueto has been sidelined since April 28 with a right elbow strain, and Samardzija has been out since May 29 with right shoulder tightness.

The imminent returns of Samardzija and Cueto will soon force Bochy's hand and relegate two pitchers out of the Giants rotation. Bochy said that he will not entertain the idea of a six-man rotation.

"I think with the way the rotation has been throwing the ball, it's not going to be easy, but we knew this would be coming," Bochy said. "Johnny is still a little ways away, but with Jeff being a little closer, we'll have to make a call pretty soon."

Bochy did not want to discuss if current starters will be considered to move to the bullpen, but acknowledged he will talk about it with general manager Bobby Evans and vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean.

The current starters that figure to be under consideration to lose a rotation spot are rookies Andrew Suarez and Dereck Rodriguez, as well as right-hander Chris Stratton, who has bullpen experience. All three have pitched exceptionally well the past two weeks.

Suarez has pitched competitively in four of his last five starts, the Giants have won Rodriguez's last three outings and Stratton has not yielded more than three earned runs since May 14.

"There's a few options, to be honest, but I don't want to mention somebody right now," Bochy said. "I want them to focus on pitching, doing their job and making this decision tough, and they're doing that."

Slater embracing opportunity

Prospect Austin Slater was recalled on Saturday. In his second stint of the season with the Giants, he has learned not to perceive other players' performance as a harbinger of moves to come.

"Earlier in my career in the Minors, I used to look ahead and be like, 'Why isn't this happening' or 'Why is this happening,' and I realized it doesn't do any good for you," Slater said. "Since, I've always thought if I put my head down and put up numbers, eventually I'll be where I want to be."

Slater is learning to embrace a role he is not used to; he drove in a big insurance run pinch-hitting in the eighth inning on Saturday.

"You've got to stay ready," Slater said. "That's a role I haven't been used to in my career, but I feel like I'm getting better at."

It's an incredibly mature approach for a player who has dominated Triple-A the past three seasons and slashed .282/.339/.402 in a stint with the Giants late last season. Slater started in left field vs. the Rockies on Tuesday.

"It'll be exciting," he said before the game. "But it's just another day, it's the same game. I've been here before so it's not a situation I'm going to shy away from."

Injury update

A timetable of six to eight weeks remains for Evan Longoria's rehab from left hand surgery, according to Bochy.

"He's already started doing some mobility stuff in the training room," Bochy said. "It's going to be a little slow at first. We'll keep ramping it up."

Martin Oppegaard is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area.

San Francisco Giants, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija