A 94-mph fastball that collided with Marco Scutaro's hand presented the Giants' second baseman with a major life decision, and he did not blink.

Scutaro said Wednesday he hopes to be fitted with an orthotic that would allow him to play despite a damaged tendon in his left pinkie, knowing that decision might cause the digit to be bent permanently.

Scutaro visited a hand specialist who diagnosed him with "mallet finger," which prevents him from straightening the pinkie. Normally, the injury is treated by immobilizing the finger for at least six weeks, or inserting a pin that forces the finger straight.

"I wouldn't want to take that many weeks off," Scutaro said after visiting the doctor. "We're just trying to figure something out to get me back on the field and keep my finger straight."

That would require the medical staff to rig a removable orthotic that would allow him to swing the bat and catch a ball in his glove. The doctor told Scutaro he could play as soon as the swelling and pain subside. He remained sore Wednesday.

Manager Bruce Bochy called it a "long shot" but said Scutaro could return by this weekend in Atlanta.

If so, the Giants' medical outlook would look much brighter than it seemed after Scutaro was injured in Tuesday's loss.

Bochy said Pablo Sandoval's strained foot is much better and the third baseman had a "hop in his step" Wednesday. The Giants expect Sandoval to be ready to go when eligible to come off the disabled list June 24, when they begin a three-game series in Los Angeles.

Bochy said Angel Pagan's hamstring also was improved, but the center fielder is not expected back before next week. He has not played since May 25.

Scutaro understands the risk of not letting his pinkie heal properly and said, "I'm pretty sure I'm just going to end up with a bad finger," although he wants to avoid that if possible.

"I don't want to live with my finger like this," he said as he curled his good pinkie into a semicircle.

The larger question is whether the Giants want Scutaro to risk permanent damage to his pinkie.