ATLANTA -- Aware of Brandon Belt's tendency to pull ground balls to the right side and stroke them up the middle, opponents have begun shifting their infielders to reflect the left-handed batter's hitting habits.
The positioning has not fazed Belt at all.
"My goal when I go to the plate is to hit a line drive, so if I hit a line drive, it isn't really going to matter," said Belt, who already has equaled his 2012 total of seven home runs. "I think it probably enters my mind when I hit a hard ground ball and it plays right into the shift. But other than that, I don't think about it too much."
Last Wednesday in Pittsburgh, Belt hit a line-drive single to left field that might have been caught if the infielders had been playing in their normal areas. But he insisted that he wasn't trying to beat the shift.
"It just worked out that way," Belt said, pointing out that he frequently drives pitches to the left-center-field gap when he's in a groove.
Belt also said jokingly about the shift, "Maybe I can offset that with a bunt or something."
Actually, that has been done. Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, who repeatedly faced massive infield and outfield shifts, bunted for a double in the second game of a doubleheader on May 3, 1970, against Philadelphia's Woodie Fryman. It turned out to be a Giants classic, since Willie Mays scored from first base on the play.
Pagan eschews surgery, hopes to return soon
ATLANTA -- Though Angel Pagan acknowledged Sunday that surgery was mentioned as an option for fixing his strained left hamstring, the Giants center fielder and leadoff hitter continued to believe that he can heal sufficiently and rejoin the lineup in the relatively near future.
He's not sure exactly when that might be.
"I'm very optimistic that I'm going to be in the lineup soon," Pagan said. "When? I don't know."
Pagan must prove beyond a doubt that he's ready to play. Slowly regaining his mobility while participating in baseball-related activities for the past week, Pagan probably will need 10 to 15 at-bats in a Minor League injury rehabilitation assignment before he's reinstated from the 15-day disabled list, manager Bruce Bochy said.
It was no surprise that Pagan rejected surgery, which could sideline him for more than a month and probably longer. Asked if surgery was no longer being considered for Pagan, Bochy said, "I don't know if it ever comes off the table until the player is playing again. Right now he's doing well with the treatment that he's gotten."
Pagan revealed that he received a platelet-rich plasma shot last week in Phoenix as a means of possibly accelerating the healing process.
The 31-year-old Pagan, who signed a four-year, $40 million contract with the Giants in the offseason, has not played since May 25, when he hit a game-winning, inside-the-park home run against Colorado at AT&T Park.
He said that his hamstring hurts most where it meets the bone at the side of the knee.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.