PHOENIX -- There were plenty of positives for the Giants on Friday, but they all came a couple hours before the first pitch at Chase Field.

The Giants are getting healthier off the field, but they continue to fizzle between the lines. A 4-1 loss to the last-place Arizona Diamondbacks was the sixth straight and ninth in 10 games.

"We're trying to find a way to keep our heads positive, like we were the first 60 games," said Tim Lincecum, who took his fifth loss. "Things happen to us, and we're not fighting back like we were in the first 60 games."

Reinforcements could be on the way, though, and the timing couldn't be better. Center fielder Angel Pagan (stiff back) missed his fourth straight game but was feeling so spry after an epidural that he took some cuts during batting practice. Manager Bruce Bochy wasn't sure if Pagan would be able to play Saturday, but the leadoff hitter doesn't seem far from a return. After Pagan hit, first baseman Brandon Belt joined BP for the first time since breaking his left thumb last month. He's tentatively on track to return July 4 in San Diego.

All eyes, however, were on another injured Giant during the pregame workout.

Marco Scutaro took grounders and hit with the Giants for the first time since spring training. The second baseman has missed the entire season with a bad back but hopes to start playing in rookie league games next week.


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"We'll take it day by day," Scutaro said. "My mind is on showing up and trying to play every day, but I can't really tell if I can. You see me today and I feel great, and the next day I might show up looking like I'm 75. That's the way backs are."

Scutaro doesn't know if he will hold up, but he feels it's time to push the envelope, and the organization agrees. The 38-year-old was a welcome sight for a team that fielding a trio of second basemen hitting .208 or lower.

"It was good to see him," Bochy said. "I'm sure the guys are glad to see him, and hopefully it's a shot in the arm. We miss him. I think he's frustrated with how long this has taken. He'll go ahead and push this to see if he can get over the hump to get to a point where he can help us in any role that can work for him."

While Scutaro remains intent on returning to his old full-time role, many in the organization believe he would be better served returning as a part-timer, capable of starting a couple of times a week and pinch-hitting. On Friday, Scutaro said he would be open to that role.

"I definitely want to get back and help the team somehow," he said. "I've just got to be available for whatever. If I can help them off the bench, or as a pinch-runner or something, I'm more than happy to contribute."

A key piece during the 2012 title run, Scutaro lit up when asked about the Giants' early success. He has been watching while rehabbing in Scottsdale, always hoping that the coming week brings relief for his back. In addition to epidural and platelet-rich plasma injections, Scutaro has tried cortisone injections. When his back acted up last year, a cortisone shot in May solved the problem. This time, he didn't feel any improvement.

"We tried a lot of stuff, and it seems I can't get over the hump," he said. "Playing like this is no fun. It pretty much sucks. I never give up, but sometimes the body can't understand. The human body is unbelievable. It lets you know when you do something (wrong)."

Asked what the exact problem is, Scutaro smiled.

"Twenty years playing baseball," he said.

Specifically, the issue is a bulging disk, and doctors decided that surgery would not be the right choice. Between the back injury and other nagging ailments, Scutaro hasn't been anywhere close to 100 percent over the past two years. But the Giants believe he can still be a boost thanks to a simple swing and solid approach at the plate.

"If it's on an everyday basis, that would be great." Bochy said. "If not, we'll take that, too."

  • Lincecum kept Paul Goldschmidt in the ballpark Friday night -- but not by much. Goldschmidt entered with a .542 average and seven homers against Lincecum and had a single, walk and double while scoring twice. Lincecum gave up four earned in six innings and struck out just one batter for only the second time in 235 career starts.

    The Giants went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position, failing to take advantage of Josh Collmenter's command issues.

    "It's kind of been that way through this tough streak," Bochy said. "We're missing the big hit to keep the line moving."

    Saturday's game

    Giants (Ryan Vogelsong 4-3) at Arizona (Brandon McCarthy 1-9), 7:10 p.m. CSNBA