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06/20/08 8:20 PM ET

Ortmeier nearing rehab assignment

Giants outfielder working his way back from broken finger

KANSAS CITY -- Giants outfielder Daniel Ortmeier almost is ready to begin rehabbing.

San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said Ortmeier could start swinging the bat in the next few days, and he envisions a stint in the Minor Leagues before Ortmeier comes back to the Giants.

"He needs playing time," Bochy said, "and he needs it bad."

Ortmeier didn't quite have the early season success he hoped for. After hitting .287 with six home runs and 16 RBIs in 62 games last year, he never quite regained the touch.

His average was up as high as .295 on May 8, but Ortmeier started slumping, getting just one hit in his next 20 at-bats. On May 30, with his average at .219, he went on the disabled list with a broken left middle finger.

Since then, Ortmeier's been away from baseball, but that should change in a few days. Once Ortmeier is ready, Bochy wants to see him get at least three solid at-bats a day at the Minor League level and prepare again for the big leagues. Bochy pointed to Eugenio Velez as an example of someone who has used a trip to the Minors to improve.

Velez, who was sent down to Triple-A Fresno in late May, has hit .330 in 26 games with the Grizzlies.

"That's what you want to see," Bochy said. "That's why you make those moves, sending down to get confidence back and game back."

Mark Dent is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.