SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants avoided the catastrophic injury this spring, but as they broke camp Wednesday afternoon, plenty were taped, braced or shot up.

Two players — left-hander Jeremy Affeldt and second baseman Marco Scutaro — did not board the flight home. Both will begin the season on the disabled list, Affeldt with a sprained right MCL and Scutaro with persistent back pain that has not gone away after multiple medical procedures. On Thursday, Scutaro will go through another round of tests. There's no timetable for his return.

"We can't get this thing figured out," manager Bruce Bochy said. "At this point, he's not on the field so I don't know. We don't know. The doctors don't know."

What is crystal clear is that the spring wasn't a breeze for trainer Dave Groeschner and his staff. Angel Pagan missed time with back tightness, Michael Morse constantly needed treatment for a calf strain, and Buster Posey was pulled from Wednesday's lineup because of a minor hamstring strain. Posey is expected to start Thursday night in the opener of the three-game Bay Bridge Series. In that respect, Bochy considers himself lucky. His lineup was never full this spring, but the Giants expect all but Scutaro to be ready to rock come opening day.

"Overall, I think we came out of it pretty well," Bochy said of the spring. "As we head into the Bay Bridge Series, I'm pretty comfortable with where we are at."


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The rotation may have had plenty of rough outings, but compared to some other National League contenders, the Giants are in good shape. That's more than the Atlanta Braves can say after losing Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen to Tommy John surgery, or the division rival Arizona Diamondbacks can claim after losing ace Patrick Corbin to the same season-ending surgery. And the Los Angeles Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw will miss his next start with back inflammation. This weekend, the Giants will face an A's club that lost 40 percent of its projected rotation to spring arm injuries.

The Giants now stand taller in the playoff race, simply because their five starters are still standing. They weren't always standing on the mound as long as they hoped, though.

Matt Cain became the latest to have a hit-shortened day, giving up six runs in five innings of a windy 8-6 win over the Colorado Rockies. Cain finished the spring with a 7.47 ERA, sandwiched between Tim Lincecum (6.52) and Ryan Vogelsong (9.00). Only Madison Bumgarner (1.19) and Tim Hudson (3.72) had sustained Cactus League success. Can you take anything away from the up-and-down outings?

"I don't think you can," Cain said. "The biggest thing is making sure you get your work in. The results, you can't worry about too much."

You can bet that Bochy and general manager Brian Sabean will, though. Lincecum hoped to pitch to contact more often this season, but the transition didn't fully take down here in the desert. He remains optimistic, as does Vogelsong, who felt his stuff was sharp even as he allowed 13 runs over his final two Cactus League starts.

After 42 days in the desert, the Giant simply don't know if their rotation will actually be improved. All of a sudden, there are questions about the bullpen, too. Affeldt was hoping for a bounce-back season and is an important jack-of-all-trades for Bochy, but he got hurt March 22 while giving up four runs in one-third of an inning. He will be out at least 10 days.

"He felt it during the game," Bochy said. "He didn't have his (knee) brace on."

Affeldt's injury likely leaves three pitchers, two of them unproven, competing for two spots in the bullpen. Jean Machi is on the 40-man roster but has been shaky this spring, while Juan Gutierrez and hard-throwing prospect Derek Law have pitched well. Yusmeiro Petit and newcomer David Huff are considered locks to make the squad as long relievers.

Ehire Adrianza and Brandon Hicks will make it after Scutaro's latest round of tests. The 38-year-old remains hopeful that his disabled list stint won't last long, but he had more injections (three) than at-bats (two) this spring. The latest was a cortisone shot given Tuesday, less than a week after a failed epidural.

"We're trying to figure out the next step," Scutaro said. "It's been a consistent feeling. Not too bad, not too good. But at the same time, I'm not playing nine innings every day. My focus is on trying to get my back ready and we'll go from there."

The Giants believe they can overcome Scutaro's absence with a lineup that is deeper and provides more pop. Posey hit .419 this spring and looked sharp from day one; Pence's homer Wednesday was his fifth and raised his Cactus League average to .362; Morse hit an even .300 and could begin the season in Scutaro's No. 2 spot in the order; Brandon Belt hit .280 while maintaining the swing adjustments he made during a huge second half in 2013.

Plenty of Giants filed through the trainer's office Wednesday, but players consider that par for the course. As long as they avoid the big injuries, the Giants feel they will be much improved.

"I hate even talking about this," Bochy said, smiling.

Instead, the Giants focused on the positive. Law and left-hander Edwin Escobar lead a crop of young pitchers who could start contributing this year. Pablo Sandoval came to camp missing at least 40 pounds and appeared to drop even more weight during consistent 80-degree days in Scottsdale. Hector Sanchez dropped 20 pounds and hit .340 this spring, including a walk-off homer Wednesday that had the Giants smiling and hollering as they headed for the airport.

The Giants are eager to wipe away the memories of a 76-86 season, a process that starts Monday when they return to Phoenix for opening day.

"There's a chip on our shoulders," Pence said. "I think a lot of guys have come in with a little bit of an edge. I like that."

For more on the Giants, see Alex Pavlovic's Giants Extra blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/Giants. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/AlexPavlovic.