Goodbye Shane Loux, welcome back Brad Penny. That was the story when we arrived at AT&T Park this afternoon, and Tim Lincecum seemed quite happy about this development. Lincecum and Penny got along famously when Penny pitched for the Giants in September of 2009, and before the game there they were in left field, shagging balls.

Well, Lincecum was the only one actually running toward batted balls and retrieving them. Penny was content to stand and watch the action in the cage and let the guy just over half his size expend energy between starts. After all, Penny is a reliever now, subbing in for Shane Loux.

“(Loux) injured his neck yesterday working out before the game. He had x-rays, he had an MRI done this morning. He’s doing better, but at the same time it looks like he’s going to be down for two, three, four days, if not longer. It’s hard to say how long that’s going to be. So to give it time he’s been placed on the DL,” Bruce Bochy said.

“We’ve purchased the contract of Brad Penny. He’ll be up here to help us in the bullpen.”

Penny pitched two innings on June 24 and two more innings on June 27 in Fresno, allowing 3 hits, 1 walk and 1 unearned run. As a former starter it would make sense for Penny to become the team’s next Guillermo Mota, but nothing’s set in stone according to Bochy.

“These things can change as far as their roles. Right now, I can use him anywhere, and that’s what I’ll tell him. I don’t want him to think he’s in one set role. Whether it’s the long guy or middle guy, just be ready any time. But I’ll give him notice. He’s been a starter for the most part in his career, so this will be a little adjustment for him.”

Bochy on Sandoval’s defense

I sat next to Julian Levine of Giants Nirvana in the press box on Wednesday afternoon, and he brought up a point I thought about enough that I decided to bring it up to Bruce Bochy.

Since Pablo Sandoval came off the DL, he has been removed from games and replaced at third base by Joaquin Arias on four occasions, including Matt Cain’s perfect game and as recently as June 24 against the A’s. He was also used as the designated hitter two other times.

The Giants’ defense as a whole has improved noticeably in recent weeks, and during this latest run of four consecutive shutouts Sandoval has been playing defense at close to the same level as last season, when he was a Gold Glove candidate.

“I think it’s getting better and better,” said Bochy in response to my question about Sandoval’s defensive progression since coming back from injury. “He’s showing more range, quickness. He just looks like he’s seeing the ball off the bat a lot better.