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Panik, Melancon return; Panda possible at SS

Pence expected back Saturday; Rodriguez to start Sunday
Special to MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Brace yourselves: With the Giants expecting to activate several of their injured starters from the disabled list this weekend, the anticipated flurry of roster moves has begun -- and things could get weird.

For starters, Joe Panik was activated from the 10-day disabled list before Friday's game to lead off and start at second base. Reliever Mark Melancon was also activated from the 60-day disabled list after missing the first two months of the season.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Brace yourselves: With the Giants expecting to activate several of their injured starters from the disabled list this weekend, the anticipated flurry of roster moves has begun -- and things could get weird.

For starters, Joe Panik was activated from the 10-day disabled list before Friday's game to lead off and start at second base. Reliever Mark Melancon was also activated from the 60-day disabled list after missing the first two months of the season.

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In corresponding moves, Kelby Tomlinson was optioned to Class A Advanced San Jose, and 28-year-old reliever Jose Valdez was activated from the 10-day disabled list and designated for assignment to clear a spot for Melancon on the 40-man roster.

When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.

Tyler Beede had already been optioned to the Minors on Wednesday to clear Melancon's 25-man roster spot.

Melancon was 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA and 11 saves in 32 appearances with the Giants last year but also spent three stints on the disabled list. He underwent surgery in his pitching arm at the end of the season and has not pitched in the Majors since Sept. 5.

Panik returned to the Giants on an accelerated timetable after a four-game Minor League rehab assignment with San Jose and Triple-A Sacramento. In his final rehab start Thursday, he was 2-for-4 with a run scored. He had missed 31 games following an April 30 surgery on his left thumb.

"Probably maybe a day or two quicker [than we expected], but he feels ready," manager Bruce Bochy said. "I talked to Joe -- he's set to go. It's good to have one of your guys back."

Tomlinson was optioned to the Minors for the first time this season. He had been slashing .226/.274/.283 as the primary second baseman in Panik's absence.

Here's where things could get interesting: Tomlinson was the team's backup shortstop, and since super-utility man Alen Hanson is also on the disabled list, the Giants will need to get creative with their shortstop depth.

Bochy indicated before Friday's game that Panik could slide over to shortstop in an emergency. And with a chuckle, he added that "utility guy" Pablo Sandoval would take pregame grounders at shortstop as well to give Bochy a sense for his options.

"He's got good hands," Bochy exclaimed of Sandoval, who has appeared at first, second, third and pitcher this season. "Sure, the range is not going to be what a normal second baseman or shortstop may have, but he has a pretty good first step. I thought, in Chicago, [as a second baseman], he showed some quickness. He really did."

Bochy indicated that in case of emergency, he might prefer to leave Panik at second base to avoid having both Panik and Sandoval playing out of position, but he wanted to wait to make his decision until he had seen Sandoval take some pregame reps at short.

Worth noting

• Per Bochy, right-hander Dereck Rodriguez will make his first career start Sunday in the series finale against Philadelphia. In his Major League debut Tuesday in Colorado, Rodriguez, the son of Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez, allowed four runs (one earned) on five hits in 3 1/3 innings while striking out four in relief of Jeff Samardzija.

Madison Bumgarner remains on track to return from the 60-day disabled list to start against Arizona on Tuesday. Over two Minor League starts since being sent on a rehab assignment Saturday, Bumgarner struck out 15, walked one and allowed only two hits in 8 1/3 innings.

Panik, who played alongside Bumgarner in San Jose this week, reported before Friday's game that the Giants' ace looked strong and was already barking at umpires in classic Bumgarner fashion.

• Bochy expects Hunter Pence to be activated from the 10-day disabled list Saturday. Pence will be the fourth outfielder upon his return, with Mac Williamson serving as the primary left fielder.

• Hanson was sent on a rehab assignment Wednesday, but is not expected to return to the Giants this weekend.

Do-Hyoung Park is a contributor to MLB.com based in the Bay Area.

San Francisco Giants, Mark Melancon, Joe Panik, Pablo Sandoval