TEMPE, Ariz. -- Marco Scutaro says you never know how many at-bats you may need in spring training to get ready for the regular season. It might take 20 or 30 or 100.

Or in his case, maybe only one?

Having not played in a game all spring because of nagging back pain, the second baseman finally landed a spot on the Giants' lineup card Monday and promptly landed a double into the left-field corner on the very first hack he took.

"Lucky swing, I guess," said Scutaro, who laid off the first pitch against Los Angeles Angels starter Hector Santiago, then hammered the next as if he'd been playing all along this spring.

"He made it look easy, didn't he?" said manager Bruce Bochy.

Well, he did for the first at-bat, anyway. On his second and final trip to the plate, he struck out, and actually swung and missed at two pitches, a rarity for Scutaro. He swung and missed only 46 times on 825 swings during the 2013 season.

"Obviously, my timing is off, you have to get in a rhythm," he said. "You won't get your timing in one day. You just have to keep building."

That said, Scutaro was in as good a mood as he's been since he reported to camp. He believes he still has enough time to be ready for opening day. The first game left him smiling.

"There was a lot of action," he said. "I got to run the bases, get some ground balls. All around, it was a good day."


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Scutaro, 38, said he still feels some back pain but that he's much better than at any point this spring. He took batting practice and infield for four consecutive days leading up to the start of the week, but it was nonetheless a surprise to see his name on the lineup card. Bochy had said Scutaro likely would start out getting at-bats in minor league games.

"It's finally feeling good, just to live life," Scutaro said. As for the baseball part, he added, "Spring training is for getting ready, and you have to get ready by playing games."

The Giants won't push Scutaro to the limit, even though there are only two weeks left before the March 31 opener at Arizona. Bochy said the second baseman likely would have Tuesday off from game duty anyway, and coupled with Wednesday's team off day, he'd be ready to start again Thursday.

"There is no rush right now," Scutaro said. "I'll take it day by day, keep working, and hopefully continue to make progress. I just have to keep building, you know?"

  • Tim Lincecum had a better outing than his final line. He gave up seven hits, two walks and five earned runs in 51/3 innings, but all seven hits were singles, and a defensive mix-up on a double play ball served to prolong a three-run Angels fourth.

    Lincecum was unhappy he departed with only one out and two on in the sixth, an inning he'd hoped he could finish. But he did throw roughly 90 pitches and was generally happy with his performance.

    "I think my mechanics just need to stay a little more sound," he said. "As the game gets on, you get more loose and flexible. You have to stay within yourself, and I think there were times today when I wasn't doing that on certain pitches. Had I done that, maybe it would have been something different. I think overall, though, most of the pitches I was making were pretty good pitches, even some of the pitches they were hitting."

    Said Bochy, "I thought Timmy was fine. Overall, he threw the ball pretty well. It's spring training, it happens to a lot of these guys. That's what we're here for, to build up a little strength and endurance. He got over 80 pitches, so we got him where we wanted him."

  • Angel Pagan had a recurrence of back stiffness after playing Sunday and going 0 for 3 and did not play Monday. Bochy said he isn't yet too concerned, and he's hoping two more days of down time will clear it up.

    "Let's get through this off day, and I think he'll be good to go," Bochy said. "But we are getting close. Ask me Thursday, and if he's still feeling something, then I will be concerned."

    Bochy said Michael Morse (calf strain) should be back in the lineup Thursday.

  • Brandon Hicks, who is hitting .400 this spring, ignited a four-run Giants ninth-inning rally with an RBI double, but Jean Machi surrendered a walk-off two-run home run to Kole Calhoun in the bottom of the ninth to give the Angels an 8-7 win.

    Follow Carl Steward on Twitter at twitter.com/stewardsfolly.