PHOENIX -- The latest injection in Marco Scutaro's back, a platelet-rich plasma shot, "made no difference," the second baseman said Friday, but that hasn't stopped Scutaro from taking the next step in his bid to return to the Giants.
Scutaro showed up in the clubhouse before the series opener with the Arizona Diamondbacks and will take swings during batting practice. He said he hopes to play in a rookie ball game next week. He'll go from there.
"We'll take it day by day," Scutaro said. "My mind is on showing up and trying to play everyday, 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 has shown no improvement since spring training, when he got three injections in the back. Asked what the specific problem is, Scutaro smiled.
"Twenty years playing baseball," he said.
The problem is actually a bulging disc, Scutaro said, but surgery is not recommended if you're getting it just so you can return to the field. The procedure would involve fusing discs together. Instead, Scutaro has continued to look for a solution via an injection. He had a similar back problem last year and said a cortisone shot in May solved everything. This year, the cortisone shots -- in different parts of his lower back -- haven't helped.
"It's hard to compete this way," Scutaro said. "We hoped to figure something out so I could be available day in and day out and compete every day. We were hoping for something. We tried a lot of stuff and it seems I can't get over the hump.
Scutaro had trouble even watching TV or sitting in place over the offseason, but said spring workouts took care of that issue. Still, when he swings a bat or returns to the field, his back flares up.
"Playing like this is no fun. It pretty much sucks," he said. "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). It tells you you can't do that anymore. It gets mad."
Scutaro hasn't given up on being an everyday player again, but he said he would return in a diminished role if that's what the Giants want. He couldn't give a timetable for any kind of return, though.
"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."
Scutaro is currently on the 60-day disabled list, but the Giants are 43-29 without him and have a four-game lead in the division. Did that start help make him feel a little better?
"Oh yeah," he said. "It made it a lot better. You're so excited to see your teammates do good. It was gratifying."
Scutaro was a key piece in the 2012 title run and was named MVP of the NLCS. That series started with a brutal collision on Matt Holliday's late slide at second, and Scutaro has never blamed the play for his current state. But he conceded for the first time Friday that he has started to wonder if the back problems started when the burly St. Louis Cardinals left fielder ran him over.
"Who knows? I wish I would know," he said. "When he hit me, it literally felt that day like he grabbed my leg and pulled it out of my hip like a chicken."
Scutaro said he's just not sure if the collision led to the back problems that popped up months later, pointing out that at 38, he's just "got too many miles." He hopes he has a few laps left in him.
"I want to come back Monday or today," he said. "But with a back, you have to listen. You never know what she's going to say tomorrow."