PHOENIX, Ariz.–Giants catcher Buster Posey won’t do much catching in Arizona this weekend.
On Friday night, Posey was penciled into manager Bruce Bochy’s lineup as the starting first baseman, and prior to the Giants’ matchup with the Diamondbacks, Bochy said he plans on starting Posey at first base again on Sunday.
The Diamondbacks have been particularly tough on left-handed hitters this year, so Bochy’s decision to use Posey at first base in two of the three games this weekend also offers the Giants an opportunity to give their left-handed hitting first baseman, Ryder Jones, a rest.
“Jones is fine,” Bochy said. “We’ll give Buster a little break here. He’ll play first again on Sunday, so he’ll get a couple of games at first and it gives Nick a couple of starts here.”
Lefties are hitting just .224 against Diamondbacks’ pitchers this season, and Jones is just 2-for-16 in limited opportunities against southpaws since beginning his Major League career. So instead of feeding Jones to the wolves –Zack Greinke on Friday night and Patrick Corbin on Sunday– Bochy will adjust his lineup and start Nick Hundley behind the plate twice.
“We try to cut back with him a little bit as far as work behind the plate,” Bochy said. “Nothing drastic. A little bit just to give him a little bit more of a break. Probably normally would be doing it at this time of year if we were in it.”
Hundley gives the Giants an additional right-handed bat, and unlike Jones, he’s tearing up lefties this season. And even though Greinke is right-handed, the Diamondbacks’ ace has been just as hard on lefties as any of the mainstays in Arizona’s rotation this season, allowing a .227 opponents’ batting average when lefties are at the plate.
After two successful rehab games earlier this week, Joe Panik is back with the Giants as the club activated him from the 25-man roster prior to Friday’s game.
San Francisco made room for Panik by optioning infielder Orlando Calixte back to AAA Sacramento on Thursday, and Bochy said it was nice to have Panik back in the lineup after he’s missed nearly two weeks with a concussion.
“It’s good to have Joe back, yeah,” Bochy said. “It’s good that he’s doing fine with the concussion situation. He played a couple of games and feels great so he’s starting tonight and it’s good to have him in the lineup.”
Panik was hit in the head by a throw from Washington Nationals’ outfielder Michael Taylor while sliding into home plate on the Giants’ last road trip, but didn’t experience any of the issues with his vision that plagued him when he was concussed last season. Once his headaches subsided, Panik resumed baseball activities and he appears eager to play again.
Unfortunately for San Francisco, the other infielder who suffered a concussion this month isn’t progressing as quickly. First baseman Brandon Belt did not travel with the Giants on this road trip, and Bochy doesn’t expect him to visit the team in San Diego on the second half of the trip. Instead, Belt will remain in San Francisco, and Bochy reiterated that it could be a few weeks before he returns to the active roster.
“I don’t think so, I’d be surprised, I’ll say it that way,” Bochy said, when asked if Belt would travel to meet the team. “Like I said yesterday or a couple days ago, it’s going to be a little while for him. So I don’t think he’ll be flying to meet us here or in San Diego.”