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Perez kept ready with playing time at Triple-A

DENVER -- When Juan Perez was optioned to Triple-A Fresno on April 16 after making the Opening Day lineup, manager Bruce Bochy told him to be ready. He had been 0-for-8 in eight games with the Giants, including one start in center field.

"Just be ready," Perez said of his plan in Fresno. "Like Bochy was telling me, 'You never know, you might be here next week.' And here I am."

In the interim, Perez made five starts with Fresno, hitting .421 (8-for-19) with two doubles, two runs, three RBIs and a stolen base. When David Huff went on the disabled list with a strained left quad, Perez was as ready as he could be.

"I wanted to see a lot of pitches, which I did," Perez said. "I had three walks in 19 at-bats, 22 [plate appearances]. So seeing a lot of pitches was one of the main things I was really focusing on. And trying to drive runners when they were in scoring position."

The regular playing time was good for the outfielder, as it's been a struggle to break into the lineup behind Angel Pagan, Michael Morse and Hunter Pence.

"He had some good games down there," Bochy said. "But he'll still be used off the bench. I'll try to get him some starts here as soon as I can. But Morse, Pagan and Pence are going to be out there."

With the way Coors Field can tax a bullpen, and a day after starting the game with three pitchers in three innings and ultimately calling on four relievers for 6 2/3 innings Monday, Bochy might have been inclined to call up a pitcher and keep his staff at 13. Instead, he took the opportunity to return to a six man-bench and the standard 12 pitchers.

"We feel like we're OK on the pitching side right now," Bochy said. "We have two games here, then we have a day off. If we have to make a change, we can still do that. But for today's game we're better off going back to 12 pitchers and having an extra player on the bench."

Bochy admitted some concern about ensuring Pagan and Morse get occasional rest to keep them fresh and healthy.

"We've been really fortunate in the early going here with 13 pitchers that we haven't had any injuries or a situation where I had to put an infielder out in the outfield," Bochy said. "In two games here, they're long games, we just thought having the flexibility to be able to make a move out in the outfield was more important than having another pitcher. Now, with that said, if we went through our bullpen, we could make a change for tomorrow."

For his part, Perez is eager to take the groove he found in Fresno and make a difference with the Giants.

"You create momentum playing," Perez said. "You come back here, and you never know if you can be the guy to win a game -- pinch-hit, pinch-run, steal a big bag during the game, do something special, make a play in the outfield. It feels good to be back here."

Owen Perkins is a contributor to
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