SAN JOSE -- Brandon Belt's return to the Giants is getting closer, as the first baseman began his rehabilitation assignment with the Single-A San Jose Giants on Thursday.

He served as the designated hitter against the Visalia Rawhide and went 1 for 3 with a single and a hit by pitch.

"I felt better than I thought I would," Belt said. "I was hoping not to come out here and strike out every time I came up. But overall, I saw the ball OK. Obviously, I still have stuff to work on. I'm just going to continue to work on the timing."

Belt singled in his first at bat on a ground ball into center field and was hit by a pitch in his second plate appearance when a curveball got him on the foot. He grounded out to third with runners on the corners and two outs in the fifth inning and struck out looking on a slider to lead off the eighth in his final at-bat.

"Overall, I was pretty happy with how it went," Belt said. "Physically, I felt good. I'm seeing the ball a little better than I thought I would, so I'll just continue to get better.

Belt has been on the disabled list since May 10, a day after he broke his thumb when he was hit by a pitch. He said the plan is to stay with San Jose through Sunday and then report to Triple-A Fresno on Monday. The Grizzlies have a four-game set in Sacramento through July 3, and he could be in line to return from the D.L. on July 4.

"I think I just want, for right now, to get my timing down," Belt said before Thursday's game at Municipal Stadium. "Just start getting that baseball mode down again, get in that baseball shape, Just see as many pitches off pitchers that I can right now. That's the main thing for me -- just tracking balls."


Advertisement

Belt expects to continue to serve as the D.H. throughout the weekend and begin playing first base Monday with Fresno.

He said he still experiences some stiffness in the hand and wrist that he attributed to spending a month in a cast but said the thumb feels great.

"It's been pretty still for that amount of time, so naturally things are going to stiffen up a little bit," Belt said of his hand and wrist. "So it's just a matter of stretching that back out, getting out there and playing again."

Belt's been itching to get back on the field, so Thursday's rehab start was a welcome sight.

"When you sit in the training room for six weeks, that's not too fun," he said. "So just to be able to get back on the field and do baseball stuff, get in that baseball routine and get in the games and kind of see pitches is pretty exciting."

The Giants have gone 23-20 in Belt's absence, but that's misleading. They went 19-8 in the first 27 games he missed but have won just four of their past 16, including Thursday's 3-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. The past two weeks -- Tim Lincecum's second career no-hitter on Wednesday aside -- have made it tougher for Belt to be out.

"You definitely don't want to sit there and watch the team struggle, just because it makes you want to be out there even more," Belt said. "But the team is so good, to me it's just a phase, something we'll come out of. And I just want to get back as soon as possible so I can help them out."

Speaking of Lincecum's no-hitter, Belt had one regret as he watched it from the dugout.

"I was kind of thinking pretty selfish yesterday," he said. "I was like, 'Man, I wish he could've waited just another couple weeks before I got back.' Because those are so fun to be a part of. I've been lucky enough to be a part of two up there, and it was pretty special watching from the bench too. It's just an all-around cool thing."

Follow Jimmy Durkin on Twitter at Twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.