EXTRA BAGGS: Buster Posey, the understated showman


EXTRA BAGGS: Buster Posey, the understated showman

SAN FRANCISCO Great players know when the curtain rises.And although Buster Posey is still a pup when it comes to major league servicetime, there isnt a soul in the city who wouldnt call Posey a great player.

So when he steadied himself and dug into the batters boxFriday afternoon, his skin still prickling after absorbing the warmestwelcome-back ovation of his life, Posey did not surprise anyone with what hedid next.

He made a circle-sized pock mark on the center field wall, 390 feet away.His soaring double scored the Giants first run in a home-opening 5-0 victoryover the Pittsburgh Pirates.

I dont think Buster gets very nervous, said right-handerMatt Cain, who was in lockstep with Posey while throwing a one-hit shutout.Hes very even-keel. Even if he is nervous, he wont let you know it.

But you could definitely see he had some energy with him.

Posey played his first regular-season game at China Basinsince the night of May 25, when he clutched the dirt in agony after rippingthree ankle ligaments and fracturing his leg in a targeted collision at theplate.

The fans stood and applauded him like he was returning fromoverseas. In a sense, he was.

I tried to enjoy it as much as I could, Posey said. Itwas a lot of work to get back here. So I tried to soak it up.

You want Cain facts? You got Cain facts!

--He threw his fifth career shutout. This was the thirdone-hitter.
RELATED: Cain gives fair value on near-perfect afternoon

--Hes the first Giant since Hooks Wiltse in 1908 to beseparated from a perfect game by just one hit to the opposing pitcher. The lastmajor leaguer with such a game was the Padres Jimmy Jones, who gave up just atriple to Houstons Bob Knepper on Sept. 21, 1986. (Courtesy: Trent McCrotter,SABR.)

--Hes the first Giant to go the distance and yield his onlyhit to the opposing pitcher since Hal Schumacher in 1935. (And darn you,Orville Jorgens!)

--He joined Jonathan Sanchez (in his 2009 no-hitter) asthe only Giants in San Francisco history to throw a shutout, allow one hit orless, walk none and strike out at least 10. (Dave Feldman noodled that one.)

--The Giants have two complete-game shutouts in theirfirst seven games (Cain, Barry Zito) for the first time since Jim Barr and JohnMontefusco in 1975. Some guys named Marichal and Perry did it in 71, too.(Another Feldy gem).

--For the second consecutive day, a Giants pitcher lost a no-hitter in the sixth inning to the No.9 hitter. Spooky. A day earlier at Coors Field, Tyler Colvin (who entered on a double switch) tripled off Madison Bumgarner.

Cain said from the first interview of FanFest that he wasenthusiastic about the Giants new-look lineup, even if the outside view wasntso rosy. Cain kept telling anyone who would listen that he didnt expect to bechronically malnourished for run support, as hes been in the past.

Well, its early. But the Giants are now 7-for-7 in scoringat least four runs. Thats something they did in just 39.5 percent of theirgames last season.

Its huge and Ive said this from Day One: These guys weadded at the front of the lineup will be huge for us, Cain said of MelkyCabrera and Angel Pagan. You get Pablo (Sandoval) and Buster behind these twoguys and its going to be fun.

Pagan was 0 for 4 but made two hard outs and contributed afine running catch in center field. Cabreras contributions are lessunderstated. Hes hit safely in all seven games, and has multiple hits in fiveof them.

Cabrera also jammed his hand when he slid headfirst into catcherRod Barajas leg while scoring from first base on Poseys double. Shortly afterthat, he received instructions from the coaching staff.

I wont slide headfirst at home plate any more, saidCabrera through an interpreter. They told me not to.

Cabrera added that he was fine.

Last year, Aubrey Huff didnt hit his first home run atAT&T Park until May 11. This season, he only needed four plate appearancesto deposit one in the arcade.

Bochy is taking a lot of heat for the way hes handlingBrandon Belt, especially after promising to give his opening-day first basemana long leash. But Bochy likes the way Huff is swinging the bat, and he wantshis most confident hitters to stay out there.

Theres a lot of confidence in Huff right now.

Ive played the game long enough to know youll have goodyears and great years, Huff said. Last year was a terrible year.

Last years over.

It was noted that Hector Sanchez, not Posey, warmed up Cainin the bullpen. That might have had something to do with the case of shinglesthat Posey is fighting through. But Bochy also said its a way to speed upSanchezs familiarity with everyone on the staff.

Posey said the Giants had him skip a few pregame bullpenslast year, too.

Its just a matter of trying to save my legs through thecourse of the year, he said.

The Giants staged their second ever home opener on Fridaythe 13th. This one went better than the previous one a loss to thePadres in 1990.

Not surprised to see Mike Fontenot get picked up by thePhillies, even if its just on a minor league contract. Hes still got gameleft, even if he wasnt a fit with the Giants.

They werent World Series champions (by the slimmest ofmargins), but I have to think the 1962 team is the best ever assembled in SanFrancisco. It was quite a gathering on the field during pregame ceremonies.Many folks forget that Don Larsen, who is better known for his perfect game forthe Yankees in the 1956 World Series, was part of that 62 Giants team.

Larsen was on hand. And if Cain had thrown a perfect game,how crazy would that be for coincidences?

The Giants found a fitting person to throw out theceremonial first pitch. It was Bryan Stows son, Tyler. Then the team made surethe moment was done right. All the players came out of the dugout and formed asemi-circle around him.

RELATED: Bryan Stow, son team up for Giants' first pitch
It turned even more emotional when Stow appeared live viasatellite with his mother, and held out a baseball to Tyler. Good luck, son,he said.

Tyler didnt stand in front of the mound. He threw a full 60feet, 6 inches. And it was a strong heave that snapped in the glove. He did hisdad proud, all right.

I dont think there was a guy on our team that wasnttrying to hold back tears, Huff said.

Something I didnt expect to see today: Groundskeeperswatering the infield an hour before the first pitch. What a gloomy forecast.What a glorious day.

Evans: Giants want to give Parker, Williamson chance to play, but...

Evans: Giants want to give Parker, Williamson chance to play, but...

While the Giants aggressively pursue a new closer, they haven't been aggressive for a new left fielder.

Angel Pagan is a free agent and isn't likely to come back. That leaves talented, but unproven youngsters Mac Williams and Jarrett Parker.

And for GM Bobby Evans, who is always looking for ways to improve the roster, it appears he is content going into the 2017 with Williamson and Parker filling the void in left field.

"Our mindset has been to keep an open mind in any way we can improve the club offensively. But that said, I feel like we've got a starting lineup today that we don't have to adjust or improve upon. I'd always like to find ways to improve it. I think there are some big market options, but we've got two young guys that we want to get a good evaluation on, and you can't really do that until they get major league at-bats. That's Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker and both of them are really in-waiting for an opportunity to get everyday playing time and show what they can do," Evans told ESPN's Buster Olney on Friday.

But Evans is keeping an open mind regarding acquiring a left fielder.

"That said, I also have to make sure that if we have an opportunity to improve or solidify our lineup in some way, I want to take advantage of it. But I can't lose sight of the benefit of developing our own guys and giving them a chance and not locking ourselves into keeping them from playing time in the next two to three years" Evans said.

Evans: Giants still in 'search mode' for closer, but 'it's progressing'

Evans: Giants still in 'search mode' for closer, but 'it's progressing'

As the Winter Meetings get set to begin in Washington, D.C. on Monday, the Giants still haven't crossed off the top item on their offseason wish list.

The closer role remains vacant.

Names like Mark Melancon and Greg Holland have been linked to the Giants over the last few weeks, but nothing has materialized.

On Friday, GM Bobby Evans provided an update while speaking with ESPN's Buster Olney.

"There's been a lot of signings and a number of trades. In many ways, more done prior to the winter meetings than in the last couple of years. We still are in process, relative to trade options, relative to free agent options, to be clear who's pitching the ninth inning for us. So we feel we have the makings of a good bullpen, we just need to be clear who's pitching the ninth. And we'd like to solidify that through the trade market or free agent market. It's progressing. We're a month into this process, so we have a lot more information. But ultimately, until we have a closer, we're still in the search mode.

There's a nice balance between both. It's just that, they both have costs. Relative to a trade, sometimes you're giving up, in some cases, one or more of your top prospects and other prospects below that. In the way of free agency, it's obviously an expenditure for a certain number of years that is elavated more on the supply and demand side. That said, there are some middle tier late inning options as well that may not be as demanding as some of the bigger names. Again, it's a balance of options trying to measure all three."