UPDATED: Posey handles first play at the plate with aplomb

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UPDATED: Posey handles first play at the plate with aplomb

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. There was a collective lump in thethroat and a catch of breath Friday night. Buster Posey was involved in a playat the plate.

For the first time since the May 25 collision that wreckedhis ankle and ruined the Giants season, Posey stood ready to receive a throwwith a runner bearing down on him.

He positioned himself a little further in front of theplate, caught a strong heave from center fielder Angel Pagan, turned and lungedas he applied a swipe tag to Mitch Moreland.

Moreland was safe. More importantly, so was Posey.

Predictably, the Giants cleanup-hitting catcher did notmake a big fuss over the play in the fifth inning Friday night. It might haverepresented a major emotional moment for a fan base, and perhaps some of his teammates,too. But not for him.

I was more thinking kind of about the work wed done thisspring and all the practice and stuff, Posey said. And I think I think itwas good.

Posey immediately called timeout and went to the mound -- notto settle down his own nerves, but to check on left-hander Madison Bumgarner,who had allowed three consecutive singles.

He was just giving me a breather, Bumgarner said. I wasmaking good pitches and he wanted to make sure I wasnt getting frustrated.

Bumgarner needed the moment to process what hed just seen,though. He saw the play unfolding and flashed back to May 25, when ScottCousins delivered his targeted, ankle-snapping, shoulder-on-shoulder hit.

Oh yeah, yeah, definitely, Bumgarner said. I was thinkingit the whole time. I didnt think itd be that close until I saw the throwcoming in. It was in the back of my mind, for sure.

Because Posey is setting up further in front of the plate, the Giants might give up a few runs on close plays at the plate. Bumgarner is fully aware of that -- and he's fully OK with it, too.

"One run's not worth him missing the whole year again," Bumgarner said.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy has said that Poseys instinctswould take over on plays at the plate. Posey said other than setting up a stepfurther into fair territory, he didnt change much about his technique.

But even last year, Id position myself in front of theplate, he said. So I dont think its that big of a change for me, to behonest with you.

I think its sometimes tough to visualize it because everythrow and every play is different. You might get a short hop or a long hop oryou might go to your left or right. But as much as possible, you try tosimulate in practice what youll get in a game.

Bochy approved of the way Posey handled the play, with one critique.

"We talked about it and the tag could've been a little lower," Bochy said. "But I thought he was in good position to make a swipe tag."

Bochy rolled his eyes a bit when asked about the significance of the play.

"It's baseball. You'll have plays at the plate," Bochy said. "He'll have more plays and he'll get more comfortable with each one. You move on. We'll continue to work on these plays at the plate. I'll say this: He spent a long time recovering. He knows there will be plays and there might be contact."

Posey wasnt sure if umpire Derryl Cousins made the rightcall until Bochy went back to check the replay. Posey said he tagged Moreland high, but he was hook-sliding so perhaps hegot his hand across the plate before the tag.

Still, Posey had no complete assurance that Moreland wouldhook-slide. If Posey had any hesitation, he didnt show it as he left his feetbriefly while lunging to apply the tag.

Moreland's view: "With two outs, I did everything I could to get in there. He gave me the plate. That's why I slid across the outer half. He gave me the plate. There wasn't going to be any collision."

Posey looked good and blocked several balls in the dirtwhile catching six innings. He is on the schedule to start at first base Friday the first time all spring that he will play defense on consecutive days. He saidhis ankle is ready to handle an increased workload, including catching nineinnings and going back-to-back days.

The Giants play day games after night games four times intheir first 10 contests of the season; theyll have 39 of those quick turngames in all this season.

Posey said he hopes to play in many of those.

Its hard to tell until you do it, he said. But from theway my ankles felt so far this spring, Im optimistic I will be able to.

'The Kid' Arroyo continues wildly impressive first week with Giants

'The Kid' Arroyo continues wildly impressive first week with Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — In a quiet moment in the dugout Friday, manager Bruce Bochy tried to figure out a nickname for his new budding star. During a week where Christian Arroyo has made the game look so easy, this has turned out to be the most difficult part. 

Bochy briefly settled on “Yo” before that was scuttled because the team’s video coordinator is Yo Miyamoto. Joe Panik said some players have tried C.A. or YoYo, but admitted that neither is all that good. The team’s Twitter account spent a few days trying to make Boss Baby a thing, but Arroyo wasn’t thrilled with that one and the experiment appears to be over. In a back room of the clubhouse, there’s a printout showing Arroyo and Buzz from “Home Alone,” but that comparison is much better made with Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman. 

Perhaps the answer is as simple as the path Arroyo’s bat takes to a fastball. As he watched Arroyo field grounders during batting practice, Dick Tidrow was asked about the 21-year-old. Tidrow, the team’s senior VP of player personnel, has seen and worked with Arroyo since he was drafted. 

“We always just called him The Kid,” Tidrow said. “He would turn around when I called him Kid.”

The Kid is growing up quickly. Arroyo’s second homer of the week was the game-winner Friday, an eighth-inning blast that put a lead in Mark Melancon’s hands. The new closer made sure the new third baseman’s homer didn’t go to waste, clinching a 4-3 win that got the Giants out of the National League West’s cellar. 

The homer might have surprised Arroyo as much as anyone. He came here with a reputation as a mature and talented hitter, but power is not his calling card. 

“I’m not trying to hit a homer there,” he said. “Get the head out, see a pitch over the plate, barrel something, just keep the line moving. I got a good pitch, elevated it, and fortunately it went out.”

Arroyo already speaks like a hitting coach, but he is not afraid to admit that there are things he doesn’t know. It’s easy to get film on opposing starters, but there’s little a rookie can do to prepare for late-inning pitching changes. Arroyo consulted Buster Posey and Conor Gillaspie before facing Ryan Buchter, who has been in the division for two years. Gillaspie told him Buchter’s fastball has some late life and gets on a hitter. 

“I wanted to see it and the first pitch was a little low so I got a good read on them,” Arroyo said. 

The second one was right at the belt and Arroyo pulled it down the line for his second big league homer. He had just three last year in Double-A, but the Giants felt the 36 doubles showed that power was on the way. 

“He’s got pop,” Bochy said. “He’s not a guy trying to hit homers. He tries to put a good swing on it. But he drives balls and you saw it tonight. We see him more as a gap guy, but he’ll get more power as he gets older. We’re not asking him to hit homers, trust me, but it’s good to see him letting it go.”

The homer secured a win on a night when a lot went right. Jeff Samardzija was sharp, paying for one pitch to Ryan Schimpf that left the park but otherwise pitching seven strong. Panik and Brandon Belt ignited the offense early and Michael Morse came through with a game-tying sacrifice fly in the fifth. Derek Law and Mark Melancon closed it out, with Melancon getting help from Panik, who made a spectacular tumbling catch on a flare to shallow right-center. It was a big first out given that Melancon was pitching for the third straight day. 

“It was going to be in no man’s land,” Panik said. “You give it everything you’ve got. Fortunately the ball stayed in the glove.”

When it was over, the youngest Giant was in for another round of interviews to cap a hectic week. On Monday he made his debut and on Tuesday he picked up his first hit. Wednesday brought the first homer and Thursday was the first multi-hit game. What will the weekend include? Maybe a real nickname? 

For now, the Giants are fine with leaning on The Kid, because many of them didn’t even know how young the star of the week was until he was a couple of days into his big league career.

“I was thinking he was 23 or 24,” Samardzija said. “This has been really impressive.”

Instant Replay: Arroyo's late-game heroics lifts Giants past Padres

Instant Replay: Arroyo's late-game heroics lifts Giants past Padres

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — On Monday, Christian Arroyo made his MLB debut. Tuesday brought his first hit and on Wednesday it was the first homer. Thursday’s game was his first multi-hit game as a big leaguer. What was in store Friday? The best swing yet.

Arroyo hit a go-ahead shot to left while leading off the eighth, giving the Giants a 4-3 win in their series opener with the Padres. The player coaches simply call “The Kid” has two homers in his first five games, and both have come in huge spots. Friday’s sent another jolt through AT&T Park and got a lead to Mark Melancon, who closed out the Padres. 

For four innings, a long-haired right-hander was no-hitting the Padres. Jeff Samardzija was sharp early and he got a nice cushion in the first. Joe Panik and Brandon Belt led off with singles and Panik scored on Erick Aybar’s two-out error. A Conor Gillaspie knock made it 2-0. 

The first hit allowed by Samardzija was a painful one. He plunked Yangervis Solarte to open the fifth and Ryan Schimpf hit a long dinger to dead center to tie the game. Cory Spangenberg followed with a single to left that skipped under Belt’s glove. Spangenberg went to third on the play and scored on a bloop. 

Belt made up for the play in the bottom of the inning, beating the outfield shift with a double and scoring on Mike Morse’s sacrifice fly to right two batters later. Samardzija ran into trouble in the seventh, but with two in scoring position and one out, he got a strikeout and a grounder to third. The Giants put the go-ahead run on second in their half, but Hunter Pence and Morse struck out. 

Starting pitching report: Samardzija has allowed six homers. He’s tied for fourth in the NL with a handful of players, including Johnny Cueto and Matt Moore. 

Bullpen report: Melancon has five straight saves since blowing his first opportunity as a Giant. 

At the plate: Belt reached base four times. His on-base percentage is sitting at a cool .390. 

In the field: Panik made a brilliant diving catch in center for the first out of the ninth. 

Attendance: The Giants announced a sellout crowd. One of the fans looked just like Samardzija, possibly on purpose. 

Up next: Matt Cain has a 2.42 ERA but he left his last start with a tight hamstring. He’ll face Jhoulys Chacin (2-3, 5.90).