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Positive steps forward for Cueto, Samardzija

Special to MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants right-hander Johnny Cueto played catch from 120 feet. Jeff Samardzija will begin throwing Monday. Both are encouraging signs for manager Bruce Bochy's injury-ravaged pitching staff.

Cueto, San Francisco's No. 2 starter behind ace Madison Bumgarner, has been out since April 29 with inflammation in his right elbow. There was initial concern that the injury could be worse, and Cueto met with elbow specialist Dr. James Andrews, who diagnosed an elbow sprain and recommended rest, rather than surgery.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants right-hander Johnny Cueto played catch from 120 feet. Jeff Samardzija will begin throwing Monday. Both are encouraging signs for manager Bruce Bochy's injury-ravaged pitching staff.

Cueto, San Francisco's No. 2 starter behind ace Madison Bumgarner, has been out since April 29 with inflammation in his right elbow. There was initial concern that the injury could be worse, and Cueto met with elbow specialist Dr. James Andrews, who diagnosed an elbow sprain and recommended rest, rather than surgery.

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Since then, Cueto has made slow, but steady progress. He extended his throwing to 120 feet before Sunday's series finale against the Philadelphia Phillies and Cueto could pitch a bullpen session next week in Washington when the Giants play a three-game series against the Nationals.

Bochy said Cueto remains on target for a return this month. He is eligible to come off the disabled list June 30.

"Johnny's anxious to get going," Bochy said. "In fact, it wasn't in the plan today, but he had the catcher get up and he just got on the mound and played a little catch. It was not a bullpen. It just an example of how anxious he is to get going."

Samardzija might not be far behind, although the Giants might be tempted to take a more cautious approach. Samardzija is on the disabled list for a second time after aggravating a pectoral injury he suffered late in Spring Training.

Video: SF@COL: Samardzija strikes out Gonzalez swinging

Although Bochy didn't put a timetable on Samardzija's situation, he will begin playing catch on Monday. From there, if all goes well, Samardzija could begin throwing bullpen sessions possibly by the end of next week.

Injury update

• First baseman Brandon Belt was expected to attend Sunday's game and will be seen by team doctors. Belt, who underwent an appendectomy late Friday night, could miss up to three weeks while he recovers from surgery.

"He seems to be doing well post-surgery," Bochy said.

Michael Wagaman is a contributor to MLB.com based in the Bay Area.

San Francisco Giants, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija