Posey's durability likely to affect roster decisions

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Posey's durability likely to affect roster decisions

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Buster Posey continues to exceedexpectations this spring and it might be impacting how the Giants arrangetheir opening-day roster.

Posey started at first base Saturday afternoon, just a fewhours after a strenuous workload Friday night in Peoria. Against the San DiegoPadres, Posey had pushed himself hard on the basepaths and caught a completegame for the first time this spring. They were long innings, too.

He said he woke up with a normal amount of stiffness inhis surgically reconstructed left ankle.

Even when youre completely healthy, spring training is alot different than the regular season, Posey said. But Im really optimisticbecause Ive made a lot of progress this spring and I think its only gonna getbetter and better.

Most impressively, Posey scored from second base on asingle. He said yes, he thought about his ankle as he made the sharp turnaround third base.

Itll be something Ill think about for awhile, he said. Itssomething Ill get more and more comfortable with. I dont think that thinkingabout it is a bad thing.

Posey said hes pleased with how the spring has gone. Hehasnt had any apparent setbacks.

The training staff has done a great job of managing it,knowing when to push and when to pull back a little bit, Posey said. Imhappy.

Its a test for Posey to play a day game after a night game something the Giants will have in four of their first 10 contests, and 39 inall this season. His strong spring makes it more likely that manager BruceBochy will stick to his early pledge to carry just one additional catcher.

Yes, it could be Hector Sanchez instead of choosing betweenEli Whiteside and Chris Stewart.

Carrying just one catcher would allow the Giants one moreposition player; they face a tough choice between Joaquin Arias middle-infielddefense and Brett Pills right-handed power.

The coaching staff and front office also continues todiscuss Brandon Belt, where he should start the season and what his role shouldbe. Bochy has said he and GM Brian Sabean have taken their discussions lateinto the night in recent days a sign there is some healthy disagreement onthe roster construction.

Also today:

--Clay Hensley had an MRI on his calf that showed only a mildstrain. He expected to get back on a mound within a day or two.

--Ryan Vogelsong threw 55 pitches in three innings of aminor league game. He remained on course to start the season opener forTriple-A Fresno on Thursday. Hell make one more rehab start after that beforethe club activates him when they need a fifth starter April 15.

--Dan Otero is your Harry S. Jordan award winner as the mostimpressive player in his first big league camp. Otero hasnt walked a batterand has a bingo number for an ERA (0.90) in 10 appearances.

I didnt know what to expect, Otero said. The first timehere, it was overwhelming. Then you get acclimated and get a comfort level.Being here with the guys, you take it as any other day. Its baseball.

Otero, Steve Edlefsen and non-roster pitcher Jean Machi arecompeting for the final bullpen spot a temporary one, since the winner isexpected to go down when Vogelsong is ready.

Machi has a nasty splitter that has gotten the attention ofthe coaching staff, but Otero is a strike thrower.

Ive always tried not to walk guys because I know Ill giveup hits, Otero said. The fewer baserunners, the better.

Otero won a five-pack of 5 Starbucks cards. He doesn't drink coffee.

--Arias was in the early lineup but Bochy changed it and putRyan Theriot at second base, instead. Emmanuel Burriss got a rare start atshortstop, too. Although theres an excellent chance Arias will be on the teamas a backup middle infielder, if the Giants opted not to carry him, they likelywould go with todays alignment Theriot at second, Burriss at short againstsome left-handed pitchers. Theyre getting Reds lefty Jeff Francis today.

Also, it appears that Bochy is more or less set onflip-flopping Posey and Pablo Sandoval in the Nos. 3-4 spots againstleft-handers this season.

The lineup:

CF Pagan
LF Cabrera
1B Posey
3B Sandoval
2B Theriot
RF Schierholtz
SS Burriss
C Stewart
P Mota

Its a Johnny Wholestaff game today, and Mota didntexactly change his routine because he was starting. Players were dressed atnoon. Mota, as per his custom, strolled in at 11:44.

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