PHOENIX –- Buster Posey has started 342 major league games. He’s been a cleanup hitter for 281 of them.
But the reigning NL MVP is moving up in the world. He’s hitting third Friday night at Arizona’s Chase Field as Giants manager Bruce Bochy tries to put the paddles to an offense that has scored just seven runs over five games.
It’s not a one-day experiment, either.
Bochy said he plans to give an extended look at Posey in the No. 3 spot. He’s got Hunter Pence hitting fourth and Pablo Sandoval fifth. On Saturday, Bochy said he plans to look at Sandoval in the cleanup spot with Pence fifth.
“Just to tweak it a little,” said Bochy, who met with Sandoval to explain the move. “We’ll see if putting them in new spots will break it up. We haven’t been putting a lot of runs on the board lately. Sometimes change is good.”
Posey, Pence and Sandoval have gotten their hits during this five-game dry spell. They’re hitting a combined .314 over that span. And Sandoval was missing for last weekend’s series at Busch Stadium, when the Cardinals held them to one run while sweeping a doubleheader.
Pulling back the lens a bit, the most important development is that Posey is now guaranteed a plate appearance in the first inning –- something that should be welcomed by the vocal segment of the fan base that has long pined to see last year’s NL batting champ hit higher in the lineup.
“I like to think with our lineup, he’ll hit in the first inning anyway,” Bochy said.
Posey seems to like hitting third. He’s got a .415 average, .443 on-base percentage and .600 slugging percentage in his 16 starts there. (He’s a .303/.380/.500 hitter in the No. 4 spot.)
“He’s so good at getting on base, and we’ve been in a little rut,” Bochy said. “We’ll hope something like this will spark them. … Really, you could take those three and pull them out of a hat and be comfortable.”
Although Bochy will evaluate how to arrange Pence and Sandoval, he said the move with Posey “could be permanent. He’s going to hit third here for awhile.”