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Johnson recalled; Belt's return still uncertain

Right-hander is corresponding move for Longoria to DL; Giants sign second-round Draft pick Hjelle
MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

LOS ANGELES -- Opting for short-term depth to help steady the pitching staff, the Giants recalled right-hander Pierce Johnson from Triple-A Sacramento before Friday night's series opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Activating first baseman Brandon Belt, who has recovered from a June 2 appendectomy, was another possible personnel move. But Belt's biggest semblance of game competition occurred only Thursday, when he got five at-bats in an intrasquad game among players at extended spring training in Scottsdale.

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LOS ANGELES -- Opting for short-term depth to help steady the pitching staff, the Giants recalled right-hander Pierce Johnson from Triple-A Sacramento before Friday night's series opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Activating first baseman Brandon Belt, who has recovered from a June 2 appendectomy, was another possible personnel move. But Belt's biggest semblance of game competition occurred only Thursday, when he got five at-bats in an intrasquad game among players at extended spring training in Scottsdale.

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Johnson began the season with the Giants, posting a 3-2 record with a 5.83 ERA in 23 appearances. He'll absorb some of the multiple innings that San Francisco's relievers have been asked to complete on a daily basis.

Entering Friday, Giants starting pitchers totaled 24 quality starts this season, the seventh fewest in the Major Leagues. Meanwhile, five Giants relievers ranked among the National League's top 26 in appearances: Sam Dyson (33, tied for fifth), Hunter Strickland (32, tied for 11th), Reyes Moronta and Tony Watson (31, tied for 26th).

Johnson replaced third baseman Evan Longoria on the big league contingent. Longoria fractured the fifth metacarpal on his left hand during Thursday's game at Miami. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said that Longoria and the team's medical staff had yet to agree on whether surgery might accelerate the healing process.

Bochy said that Pablo Sandoval likely would receive most of the playing time at third base, though Alen Hanson started Friday.

Giants ink second-round Draft pick
The Giants were all too happy to sign right-hander Sean Hjelle, their second-round pick in the recent MLB Draft. After all, just selecting the 6-foot-11 product of the University of Kentucky was enough of a thrill for the ballclub, whose braintrust wasn't certain whether he would be available with the 45th overall selection.

"We're glad he was there," Giants general manager Bobby Evans said Friday after MLB.com's Jim Callis reported that Hjelle agreed to a $1.5 million bonus. "We didn't necessarily expect him to be there."

Video: Draft 2018: Giants draft RHP Sean Hjelle No. 45

With his stature, Hjelle might be expected to struggle with his pitching mechanics, as is the case with many too-tall hurlers. But Hjelle impressed observers, including the Giants, with his all-around polish.

"We got a chance to see him a good bit. He impressed us at every turn," Evans said of Hjelle, who finished 22-10 with a 3.68 ERA in 54 games (31 startss) in three seasons at Kentucky. In 228 2/3 innings, Hjelle struck out 222 batters and walked 66.

"I think he takes advantage of his height well," Evans added. "Hopefully we can help him do more of that."

Evans said that Hjelle, like most draftees, will report to rookie camp at Scottsdale and has a definite chance to end the season with the Giants' short-season, rookie-level Salem-Keizer affiliate. The Giants project Hjelle to develop into a middle-of-the-rotation starter.

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, Pierce Johnson