Brandon Belt feels good, looks good in rehab with Fresno Grizzlies

The Fresno BeeJune 28, 2014 

Injured San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt says his left thumb -- broken after getting hit by a pitch May 9 against the Los Angeles Dodgers -- is feeling good.

Belt's batting stroke looked pretty good, too, Saturday as his rehab assignment moved to Fresno after two games at Class-A San Jose.

Belt went 3 for 4 during the Grizzlies' 3-2 Pacific Coast League victory over Salt Lake at Chukchansi Park.

The left-handed hitting Belt ripped a single to right-center in the first inning, sliced a hard-hit double to left in the sixth and popped a run-scoring double to the wall in right-center in the eighth for the go-ahead run.

"I'm a little bit better off than I thought I would be at this point, but there is definitely some stuff I need to work on," said Belt, now 6 for 10 on his rehab assignment with a home run, two doubles and two RBIs. "The main thing is timing right now. My hand feels pretty good and I'm seeing the ball pretty well. Now I just need to get my timing down, that's the last step."

Belt, who has yet to play the field in three rehab games, took ground balls at first base during Saturday's batting practice and looked smooth. He was in a cast up until four weeks ago.

Belt said he will stay with the Grizzlies through Thursday and hopes to be activated for the Giants' game at San Diego on July 4. Fresno has one more game left in its homestand, then starts a series at Sacramento on Monday.

"Initially the timetable was I'd be back on the Fourth of July. That would be eight weeks on the dot," Belt said. "So right now I'm right on time. But you never know. I'll take these next five, six games to see where I am."

His return can't come soon enough for the Giants, who have been averaging about 3.5 runs per game since hitting a tailspin in mid-June.

Belt was hitting .264 with nine home runs and 18 RBIs through 35 games at the time he was injured. This coming after Belt established himself in the second half of last season following a poor start.

"It was nice not to suck the first half of the season, to be honest with you," Belt said. "I've learned a lot of stuff, I guess, over the past couple of seasons. Amid all the struggles I had, I was able to learn a few things and I think that helped me out this year to have a good start."

Belt got a chuckle out of a bit of irony: As a crowd of 9,039 turned out at Chukchansi Park for Tim Lincecum bobblehead night, it was Belt's bobblehead night at AT&T Park.

"It was supposed to be an all-Brandon weekend in San Francisco and I missed it," Belt said. "It was initially supposed to be me and Brandon Crawford, then Brandon Hicks came in and took over for me. It's a little weird, but I'm sure everyone is having fun. When one Brandon is down, another one steps up."

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6103, nickg@fresnobee.com or @NickG_FB on Twitter.

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