Posey's early HRs, health provide optimism

April 4th, 2021

Buster Posey’s early production has been phenomenal, if not unsustainable. But more important than the results, the Giants catcher feels healthy, and for the veteran backstop, health outweighs performance at this juncture.

Still, two home runs for Posey through two games are reason for some excitement.

“It was awesome just to see that again,” said first baseman Brandon Belt of Posey's Opening Day home run. “Two years ago, he wouldn't have been able to do that. It looks like his hip is a lot healthier now, and he's able to turn those pitches. You’re probably going to see a lot more of that from Buster this year.”

Through two games, Posey has been San Francisco’s most significant development. He has homered in consecutive games for the first time since 2017. Along with the offense, Posey has provided his familiar, calming presence behind the plate.

Much of that production can be attributed to the improved health of Posey’s hip, which hasn’t appeared to pester him as it did some in past years. Posey said he was “really pleased” with his overall health after catching back-to-back games to begin the season, a great sign given previous health concerns.

After Posey underwent season-ending surgery in August 2018, his hip continued to affect him in '19, resulting in the toughest offensive season of his career. Posey experienced hip tightness this spring as well, causing him to miss a couple games, so the early status report is encouraging.

Posey likely won’t catch 110-plus games, as he did in his prime, but he said during Spring Training that his goal was to be behind home plate as much as possible. To maximize his availability and productivity, Posey has emphasized stretching and staying loose above all else.

The hope is that with health comes resurgence, one similar to that of Belt and Brandon Crawford last season. Posey’s healthy hip will allow for quicker bat speed, which is particularly helpful on his ability to hit inside fastballs, like he did on his Opening Day home run.

Along with how Posey hits, it will be monitoring where he hits. In each of the first two games, Posey hit seventh, a spot in the lineup that he hadn’t been in since his rookie season in 2010.

Hitting seventh isn’t an indictment of Posey's bat as much as it is a compliment of San Francisco’s depth. In Posey's absence last season, the Giants' offense morphed into one of MLB's best. Second baseman Donovan Solano won a National League Silver Slugger Award. Belt and outfielder Mike Yastrzemski had career years. Third baseman Evan Longoria hit the ball as hard as he did in his prime.

Posey could move up a spot or two in the order, should he continue hitting well, but for the time being, he provides the Giants with the luxury to round out the lineup.

"I think Buster is a true professional in every sense of the word," manager Gabe Kapler said. "And I think our players understand that, in particular this year, if you're batting a little lower in the lineup, it's because somebody really capable is batting higher. I think our players are professional enough to understand that."

Injury updates
• Left-hander Alex Wood (lower back strain) threw a simulated game and is "progressing well." With Wood on the injured list, Aaron Sanchez will be the Giants' No. 5 starter and will make his debut for the team during the series against the Padres that begins Monday.

• Outfielder Jaylin Davis will be out four to six weeks due to left knee tendinitis.

• Right-hander Silvino Bracho is dealing with a left oblique strain and is seven to 10 days away from throwing.