PEORIA, Ariz. Barry Zito's incredibly shrinking stuff is cause for alarm, but at leastthe other end of the Giantsbattery appeared fully charged Friday night.
Not only did Buster Posey play nine innings for the firsttime all spring, but no part of it was a country club. He had to squat forthree interminable innings with Zito on the mound. He had to warm up JavierLopez after Clay Hensley left with an injury.
Most impressively, he had to push it harder on the basepathsthan at any point this spring. And then he had to push again.
Posey ran aggressively down the line while beating out aninfield chopper in the fifth inning. He took second base on a wild pitch. Thenhe scored from second on Brandon Belts single to right field. Posey slid intothe plate before the ball arrived, never showing a bit of hesitation.
He was 2 for 5 and has a .324 average this spring.
This was a long game. That was a good test, said Giantsmanager Bruce Bochy, adding that Posey would play first base on Saturday. Hesbeen coming through all the tests.
Its interesting that Posey will play first base a day afterhis most taxing night on the field. Thats probably what the Giants will askhim to do often this season. The club plays 39 day games after night games.Theyll play four such quick turn games out of the first 10 this season.
Bochy said Poseys health, ability and steady progress haveexceeded expectations.
We were optimistic hed be fine, but we havent had anyhiccups, Bochy said. (Trainer) Dave Groeschner has done a terrific job withthe rehab plan and Buster has come through all the stuff we put him through.
Hes really back to where he was.
Bochy added that Posey would do the lions share of thecatching, but he still couldnt put a number on the total starts he expects.Bochy might not have a true read on that until the end of April or the beginningof May.