Pressure accompanies Posey's return

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Pressure accompanies Posey's return

SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Lincecums rock star persona aside, theres no doubt who will be the biggest draw at San Francisco Giants Fanfest at AT&T Park.

The favorite son. Buster Posey is back, without crutches or a boot or a scooter.

And hes expected to be the Giants' offensive savior.

So, no pressure, Buster.

But Posey seems eager to get back into savior mode. He wont mind meeting his adoring fans Saturday. On Friday, in his media session, he made it clear that the fans outpouring of sympathy, concern and get-well cards after his season-ending ankle injury last May was truly meaningful to him.

The fans have been really, really special from the first day that Ive been here, Posey said. It was pretty neat. It was something my wife and I could feel, that we could see. We could feel the emotion watching on TV, see the signs.

No question it helps you. Helps your psyche, helps with the recovery process.

Posey said the recovery process is on schedule. He expects to be the Giants' starting catcher when they open at the Diamondbacks on April 6.

I expect to be, yeah, he said.

He is, however, being realistic. He knows that stints at first andor third could be in the works for him this season and maybe for the long-term.

I enjoy catching, he said. But if I cant, I have to be realistic. I feel pretty confident that I will be able to. Its just a matter of endurance through the course of the year. But I think I will have good endurance.

One thing is for certain: Posey is planning to enjoy every minute of the season.

Im looking forward to every bit of it, he said. When you see how quickly it can be goneIm going to do my best to enjoy it.

Im more appreciative of what I do, he added. Its such a long season that you can get caught up in the grind. I hope I can use it when its August 14th and were playing in Atlanta and its 130 degrees. I can say, All right, well I am playing.

Posey said his rehabilitation was slightly ahead of schedule. He stayed in Arizona until early November and then went home to Georgia. Giants staff members came to visit him and monitor his progress. Though his ankle is stiff in the mornings, he said it feels good in the crouch.

The silver lining of his injury was being a stay-at-home father to his new twins. Now almost six months old, Lee Dempsey and Addison Lynn are trying to figure out how to crawl and take turns keeping their parents awake at night -- they have yet to synchronize their sleep schedules.

Posey said he hasnt talked to Scott Cousins, the Marlin who slammed into him and caused his injury. And he doesnt plan to. He said he wants to move forward and doesnt think hell have any mental obstacles about playing again.

He knows that might be more difficult for his wife.

Im sure it will be, he said. I know my wife will be nervous. But she knows I love what I do.

Posey said his biggest struggle was to keep a positive mindset as the season wore on.

One of the hardest things was, just mentally, keeping a good mind set, he said. Your job is to get healthy and theres not much else you can do. Youre used to coming in every day prepared to play and the next day youre done for the year. Its a big adjustment.

His staff is excited to have him back. Lincecum who got better and better with Posey as 2010 progressed until they were dominant together in the postseason - talked about the groove he and Posey were in early in 2011. On May 21, in a game against the As, Lincecum said Posey drew out the best in him.

I felt like he was just on, Lincecum said. I felt like I didnt have my stuff that day. But he called a great game that day. After I throw the last pitch, strike three, he gives me the ball. I said, good game and gave him a hug,and he said Why arent you excited? I said, Im still pissed because my stuff didnt feel good.

But Posey got him through it. That was their last appearance together in 2011. Four days later, Posey was finished.

Barring an unforeseen spring training setback, Lincecum and Posey should be back together on Opening Day, trying to recapture the magic.

Weve got to be better offensively, Posey said, when asked what the Giants needed. No doubt about that.

Welcome back, Mr. Savior.

Freelance writer Ann Killion is a frequent contributor to CSNBayArea.com and Chronicle Live.

Giants lineup: After 10-3 loss, Bochy makes no changes; Pitcher recalled

Giants lineup: After 10-3 loss, Bochy makes no changes; Pitcher recalled

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Pirates-Giants coverage begins at 4pm with Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming right here.

Despite mustering just three runs on Monday night, the Giants will trot out the same lineup on Tuesday night against the Pirates.

The Giants also made a roster move prior to Tuesday's game. Pitcher Chris Stratton was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento while infielder/outfielder Orlando Calixte was optioned to Sacramento.

Pittsburgh Pirates:
1. Starling Marte (R) LF
2. Josh Harrison (R) 2B
3. Andrew McCutchen (R) CF
4. David Freese (R) 3B
5. Josh Bell (S) 1B
6. Jose Osuna (R) RF
7. Francisco Cervelli (R) C
8. Jordy Mercer (R) SS
9. Jameson Taillon (R) P

San Francisco Giants:
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. Hunter Pence (R) RF
7. Joe Panik (L) 2B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) LF
9. Madison Bumgarner (R) P

Listless Giants roughed up by Pirates in ejection-filled series opener

Listless Giants roughed up by Pirates in ejection-filled series opener

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Pittsburgh Pirates kept clearing the fences, and the San Francisco Giants were left arguing plate umpire Chris Conroy's tough strike zone.

Even Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle understood the beef.

Andrew McCutchen hit a three-run homer and had four RBIs, Gerrit Cole won for the fifth time in six starts, and the Pirates beat San Francisco 10-3 on Monday night.

"I think there was some frustration really all night," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who watched most of the game from his office after an ejection in the second. "I don't think he had a real good night, to be honest, as far as consistency, but that really had nothing to do with what happened tonight. We gave up three-run homers."

Jordy Mercer added a three-run shot of his own in the eighth to further back Cole (8-7), 5-1 in his last eight starts. That lone defeat came June 30 as San Francisco swept the Pirates at Pittsburgh from June 30-July 2 - the Giants' first in the series since 2009.

This time, Pittsburgh immediately jumped on San Francisco starter Matt Cain (3-9), who matched the longest losing streak of his career at eight games - also done from July 28, 2015-May 10, 2016.

Bochy was tossed by Conroy for arguing balls and strikes in support of Cain moments after McCutchen connected, the skipper's second time being tossed this year. San Francisco pitching coach Dave Righetti then got tossed in the ninth.

"It was a tough zone," Hurdle said. "They lost two people on their side thrown out of the game."

Cole allowed two runs on six hits in six innings, struck out four and walked four.

He improved to 4-1 in six career starts against San Francisco. The Pirates won their seventh straight game at AT&T Park and ninth in 10, including sweeps both last year and in 2015.

Buster Posey hit a pair of RBI singles in San Francisco's fourth loss in five games.

McCutchen hit his 18th homer as the Pirates cleared the fences in San Francisco for a sixth straight game. His RBI groundout in the first started things off for a Pittsburgh club that had lost back-to-back games on the heels of a season-best, six-game winning streak, including a 13-3 flop in the finale against the Rockies on Sunday at Coors Field.

Josh Bell and Starling Marte each doubled home a run and Josh Harrison added an RBI single.

"This offense is good, we've shown that," McCutchen said.

Cain matched his second-shortest outing of the year at four innings and is winless in his last 11 starts, the longest by a Giants pitcher since the right-hander went 15 outings without a victory during his previous eight-game skid.

CHEERS TO THE HOME RUN KING:
Former slugger Barry Bonds, who played for both teams, received a greeting on the scoreboard for his 53rd birthday but the career home run king wasn't in the stands.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Pirates: OF Gregory Polanco, who strained his left hamstring Friday at Colorado and landed on the 10-day disabled list, tested his leg with some straightaway running and was going to do some riding on the stationary bike with the hopes he can hit in the cage soon. Hurdle said he did witness Polanco scurry across a street to avoid being hit by a car, then acknowledged it wasn't that close a call. ... With an off day Thursday at San Diego, the starters will get an extra day of rest.

Giants: RHP Johnny Cueto played catch and said the trouble spots on three of his pitching fingers are greatly improved. He said they aren't true blisters. The plan is for him to play catch again Tuesday and perhaps throw off the mound Wednesday if all continues to go well. ... Closer Mark Melancon had the day off as he recovers from a second DL stint with a strained forearm. He will throw a bullpen session Tuesday, Bochy said, and face hitters this weekend in Los Angeles if ready.

UP NEXT:
Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (6-3, 3.08 ERA) is 3-2 with a 2.84 ERA in seven starts since returning from the DL on June 12, just more than a month after surgery for testicular cancer. He seeks his first decision against the Giants in two starts.

Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner (0-4, 3.57) tries again for his first victory of 2017 in his third outing back from missing nearly three months following a dirt bike accident April 20 in Colorado.