Cautious path with Posey 'pays dividends'

May 18th, 2021

The temptation exists for Giants manager Gabe Kapler.

After watching hit .362 with a 1.093 OPS and eight home runs through his first 27 games, Kapler has thought about finding more opportunities to get Posey’s bat in the lineup this year.

But so far, Kapler and the Giants are staying disciplined with the 34-year-old Posey’s usage, recognizing that rest and recovery will be paramount to keeping their franchise star productive over the entire 162-game season.

“I think the motivation here is simple, and it's to keep Buster healthy and fresh and make sure that his body is recovering,” Kapler said. “It’s not easy, but I do think it pays dividends. I think Buster believes it pays dividends. We’re all pretty committed to making sure that he gets the rest that he needs, even as great as it is to have him in the lineup and in the batter’s box for us.”

Kapler remains in frequent communication with Posey, and he said he checked in with the six-time All-Star last week to plan out his catching workload during the Giants’ eight-game road trip to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Posey has been receiving at least one game off per series, and he hasn’t been called upon to pinch-hit when he doesn’t start behind the plate to ensure that he receives a full day off.

“It’s been working well,” Posey said after he went 3-for-4 with a walk in the Giants’ 4-1 win over the Pirates on Sunday. “A lot of credit goes to [backup catcher] Curt [Casali], just because he has the trust of the pitching staff, the coaching staff and Kap to go back there and lead those guys. It’s been working out well.”

If he had enough plate appearances to qualify, Posey’s .362 clip would lead the Majors. A player must average 3.1 plate appearances per game to enter the ranks of qualified hitters, which would have amounted to 124 plate appearances through the first quarter of the season.

Posey finished Monday with 108, but he said he’s not concerned about trying to qualify for his second career batting title. He captured his first with a .336 average in 2012, when he was also named the National League MVP.

“Ultimately, it’s always going to be about trying to win games,” Posey said. “If I think what we’ve got going is the best chance to win, then that’s what we do.”

Posey said Kapler has not approached him about playing first base, where he occasionally moonlighted under former manager Bruce Bochy. Perhaps that scenario will be revisited down the line, but for now, the Giants will happily take the return of vintage Posey, is batting .447 (21-for-47) with four home runs and eight RBIs over his past 15 games. He went 0-for-5 in Monday's 6-3 win over the Reds, but he scored the game's first run in the first inning on a fielder's choice.

Family reunion
The Giants claimed outfielder , the older brother of 2019 first-round Draft pick Hunter Bishop, off waivers from the Mariners on Monday. Braden, who was designated for assignment after Seattle promoted top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert last week, was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento.

To clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Braden, the Giants transferred reliever Reyes Moronta (right flexor strain) to the 60-day injured list.

Braden, 27, attended St. Francis High School in Mountain View, Calif., and was selected by the Mariners in the third round of the 2015 Draft out of the University of Washington. The right-handed hitter is known as a true center fielder and has batted .290 with a .759 OPS in the Minors. Braden debuted in Seattle in '19, hitting .133 (12-for-90) over parts of three Major League seasons.

Hunter, 22, opened the 2021 campaign at High-A Eugene, though he hasn’t played since May 6 due to a shoulder injury. The brothers have been active on and off the field, as they also run the 4MOM Charity, which was founded to raise money for the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. Their mother, Suzy Bishop, passed away from Alzheimer’s in October 2019.

Injury updates
• Brandon Belt was out of the Giants’ lineup for the second consecutive game with left side tightness, though an MRI exam on Monday came back clean. Kapler said Belt remains day to day. Darin Ruf started at first base against Reds right-hander Sonny Gray on Monday.

• Donovan Solano (right calf strain) was scheduled to play seven innings at second base in his second rehab game with Sacramento on Monday. If all goes well, Solano will likely be stretched out to nine innings, but Kapler said the Giants are making sure not to rush the 33-year-old veteran’s game progression.