Bochy: Posey to play more first base in 2012

604824.jpg

Bochy: Posey to play more first base in 2012

DALLAS-- Giants manager Bruce Bochy spoke with reporters at baseball's WinterMeetings and provided some clarity on how he plans to use Buster Posey in 2012.Posey, working his way back from season-ending leg and ankle injuries sustainedlast May, will play some first base next season to allow him to rest more whilekeeping his bat in the lineup, Bochy said.Busteris our primary catcher, but if this is a way to give him a break occasionallythen it will work out well for him and whoevers playing first.

Posey hit.284 with 4 home runs in 45 games last season after winning the Rookie of theYear in 2010 with a .305 average, 18 home runs and 67 RBIs."Wed like to get himout there as much as we can without wearing him down," Bochy said. "And if putting him atfirst base a few games allows us to play him more, then this is why weredeciding to give him more playing time at first base.More notes from Bochy's media session:- Second baseman Freddy Sanchez threw today for the first time since undergoingshoulder surgery on Aug. 2.- Closer Brian Wilson has been building strength and will start throwing onJan. 1.- Aubrey Huff is aware of the possibility that he will need to play more leftfield next season and has been working out everyday to get back to where he wasbefore his disappointing 2011 season.He knowsthat left field is a place where he could be getting a lot of playing time.This would help our situation, having the flexibility that we could have withBuster going to first, Aubrey playing left, and with Brandon Belt we can mix and match the waywed like to.
- Nate Schierholtz is the front-runner to take the starting right field job."Its his job to lose but hes got to come in and do what he knows what we think hell do and what he believes he can do and thats stay healthy and go out and play well.
- Bochy is comfortable with Brandon Crawford being his everyday shortstop andwould not comment on rumors that the Giants are interested in Japaneseshortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima, who he called a "good player."
Bochy on Crawford:
Were comfortable. I thought Brandon did a nice job there. I really liked the way he carried himself even through some tough games offensively. He didnt let it affect him and hes a very good defender. Thats the plan right now to have him at short.

Bochy on Nakajima:

"Good tools, very good defender, he can handle the bat. His strength is what he can do at shortstop ... hes a guy who can provide some offense too.

- Hector Sanchez, who hit .258 in a brief call-up last season, has impressed Bochy and is a candidate to back up Posey at catcher, though Bochy said he'd like Sanchez to play everyday.

"This kid is really opening up eyes this past year," Bochy said. "Hes made as much improvement for a young player that Ive seen in a long time. His skills behind the plate, handling pitchers, of course the bat. Hes down there having a great year in Venezuela and I think he leads the league in hitting. And hes a young kid. Hes really making a lot of noise. And for a catcher to swing the bat the way he does as a switch hitter, thats a rare commodity. I look forward to his progress and I look forward to seeing him in the spring.

- Brian Sabean said that Pablo Sandoval would be comfortable catching on days Posey isn't behind the plate if needed.

"On the days Buster needs a day off period and wouldn't be a first baseman or catcher, Pablo could catch Zito starts to get more offense in the lineup and he's open to that. Now whether that happens I don't know but it's been discussed."

- The Giants have reached out to Tim Lincecum's camp regarding a new contract but there have been no substantial developments.

Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale

Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- The blisters on Johnny Cueto's middle and index fingers that limited his effectiveness in his last few starts haven't yet completely healed.

But the two-time All-Star is learning to pitch with them.

Cueto threw six strong innings and Brandon Crawford drove in three runs as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Atlanta Braves 7-1 on Sunday.

Cueto (5-4) bounced back from his roughest stretch as a Giant. He was 0-3 with a 4.33 ERA in his previous four starts.

"They're not bothering me like they were before," Cueto said through a translator. "I'm just getting used to it but I have to continue pitching until they get better."

The Giants won their third straight home series and posted their 11th victory in 18 games overall.

Crawford's two-run single highlighted a four-run second against R.A. Dickey (3-4) that made it 6-0.

Matt Kemp had three hits for Atlanta. But the Braves couldn't get much going against Cueto, who allowed one run on six hits and a walk. Cueto struck out eight, including five in a row at one point.

"He did what he needed to do to get us out," Kemp said. "We had chances to score runs and we didn't. I think in this series we really didn't do a good score of scoring runs."

Dickey allowed a season-high seven runs (six earned) on six hits and five walks in six innings.

"This can be a challenging place to throw because of the wind because it swirls so much," Dickey said.

Eduardo Nunez and Gorkys Hernandez each had two hits for the Giants. Joe Panik tripled to start the second-inning burst.

Cueto had two productive at-bats, bunting a runner to second in the second inning and driving in a run with a sacrifice fly in the third.

"It's always nice to have a lead and I thought Johnny was the sharpest he'd been this year," Giants catcher Buster Posey said. "Hopefully it's something he can build on. The changeup was working really well and his command of the fastball was really good."

Posey was 0 for 2 with two walks. He hasn't struck out in 55 consecutive plate appearances.

FUN FACTOR:
The Giants scored the game's first run when Nunez came around from third when a knuckleball glanced off catcher Kurt Suzuki glove in the bottom of the first. The play was ruled a passed ball. Asked if he had any empathy for the plight of his counterpart, Posey said "Yes, no question. It's not fun to hit, it doesn't look fun to catch, either."

FANCY FIELDING:
Hernandez made a diving catch in the gap in left-center robbing Emilio Bonifacio of an extra-base hit with one out in the seventh inning.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Braves: 2B Brandon Phillips left in the fifth for pinch-hitter Jace Peterson. Phillips fouled a ball off his foot in his last at-bat in the third.

Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner will start his throwing program on Friday, manager Bruce Bochy said. Bumgarner will start out playing catch and make five rehab starts. The 2014 World Series MVP suffered a separated left shoulder in a dirt biking accident. "The progress is happening," Bochy said. "I think he sees light at the end of the tunnel." ... Slumping rookie INF Christian Arroyo was out of the lineup on Sunday and his playing status appears uncertain. Arroyo, who turns 22 on Tuesday, is 0 for 19 in his last five games. "I'll talk to him, about what his situation is," Bochy said. "I'm definitely planning on giving him a couple of days" off.

UP NEXT:
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran will make his first career start against the Angels in Anaheim on Monday. He is 3-9 with a 5.63 ERA in 15 career interleague starts.

Giants: LHP Matt Moore will face the Nationals for the second time in his career. He was with Tampa Bay when he gave up two runs in five innings against Washington in 2012.

Giants lineup: Posey catching, Nunez at third base against Braves

Giants lineup: Posey catching, Nunez at third base against Braves

The Giants look to win two straight against the Braves and Bruce Bochy has made a few changes to the lineup Sunday.

Atlanta Braves (21-26)

1. Ender Inciarte (L) CF
2. Brandon Phillips (R) 2B
3. Nick Markakis (L) RF
4. Matt Kemp (R) LF
5. Matt Adams (L) 1B
6. Kurt Suzuki (R) C
7. Rio Ruiz (L) 3B
8. Dansby Swanson (R) SS
9. R.A. Dickey (R) P

San Francisco Giants (21-30)

1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Eduardo Nunez (R) 3B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Justin Ruggiano (R) RF
7. Joe Panik (L) 2B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) LF
9. Johnny Cueto (R) P