As opening day draws nearer, Manager Bruce Bochy sounded a note of caution regarding third baseman Pablo Sandoval’s injured right elbow.

“We can’t ever stop looking at the big picture,’’ Bochy said before Thursday night’s game against the A’s at AT&T Park. “We’re not going to push him if he’s not ready.”


Bochy said he was “optimistic” that the World Series MVP would get some get at-bats over the next two days, either against the A’s or in an extended spring game back in Arizona.

Bochy said getting Sandoval some game action would be “critical” if the third baseman is to be ready in time for Monday’s regular-season opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers,

Sandoval hasn’t played since March 16 and has had multiple tests on his elbow to determine the extent of the damage. Bochy sounded in no hurry to make a decision, but said the team is prepared “if we have to go another direction for a week or so.”

The Giants used utility man Joaquin Arias as their starting third baseman Thursday night against the A’s.