SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy penciled out his lineup for Saturday's exhibition opener, and it includes most of the forecasted starters.
But not Buster Posey.
The Giants' cleanup-hitting catcher won't play on Saturday and might not make his Cactus League debut until the middle of next week, Bochy said. Trainers and club officials agreed that Posey's reconstructed left ankle needs more time, especially when it comes to sliding and baserunning.
"At this point, we feel he's better off (not playing)," Bochy said. "Could he go back there and catch? Yeah. But we want to make sure he's ready. We want to be 100 percent sure."
As recently as two days ago, Bochy had left open the possibility that Posey could start the opener. But he said he knew all along that the more realistic possibility would be to have his 2010 Rookie of the Year ready "by the second week or the back end of the first week" of exhibition games.
"We've been here 10 days, and you may think that's a long time," Bochy said. "But when a guy hasn't played in four, five months or longer, it takes time. But I will say this: He's real close. If we wanted to force the issue, we could."
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Posey hasn't tried any sliding drills yet. He ran bases a few weeks ago and said his ankle has been stiff and sore when introduced to new tests. But he is pleased with the progression and said he anticipates being game ready soon.
"I'm feeling great and everything is going well," Posey said. "We're sticking to the course and I don't think it'll be long before I get into games here."
Posey said he didn't see sliding as a major issue. He acknowledged the baserunning concern, though.
"That's definitely been the toughest thing so far, but there's been a lot of improvement," he said. "Any time I'm challenging my ankle to do something different, it responds better and better each time I do it. ... The first time I caught, there was stiffness. It for better each time I caught. We knew running bases would be one of the last things to do."
The first lineup of the spring often is chock full of hints as to which players are considered the ones to beat out for jobs. So it's telling that Aubrey Huff, and not Brandon Belt, will start at first base on Saturday, Bochy said.
Bochy plans to play Mike Fontenot at second base, Brandon Crawford at short, Pablo Sandoval at third, Melky Cabrera in left field, Angel Pagan in center and Nate Schierholtz in right. Chris Stewart will start at catcher; he'll receive Tim Lincecum, who is expected to throw just one inning.
Is Posey disappointed he won't be able to join his mates?
"There's no disappointment at all," Posey said. "Spring training is about being ready for the season. If I wasn't ready for the opener of the regular season, I'd be disappointed."