So much of Sunday's spring opener looked familiar for Buster Posey. He had a couple of solid plate appearances, picking up the first Giants hit of the day by inside-outing a low fastball to right field as he has done so many times over the last decade. He shepherded a group of wild pitchers through the first three innings of a 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels and uncorked a strong throw to second in his final frame.
But when Posey looked around Scottsdale Stadium, the seats mostly were empty, with 863 fans scattered around a park that usually buzzes for the first game, especially when Posey is in the lineup. It still was a big improvement, though.
"Watching the games on TV last year and seeing just cardboard fans in the stands, it was definitely nice to see some live humans out there," Posey said.
Those in attendance were the first Giants fans to watch the team in person in nearly a full year, and while the players appreciated it, it still was an adjustment. Posey and manager Gabe Kapler said they could hear conversations in the seats. When Posey reached base, Angels first baseman Jared Walsh noted that it felt like they were playing in a high school game.
The day was an important one for the Giants, who hope to replicate these guidelines at Oracle Park in April. It also was a notable one for Posey, who opted out of the 2020 season and had not faced an opposing pitcher since March 10, 2020.
"It felt good to be back," he said. "It's a game I've loved to play since I was a kid. Being able to get out there and compete and be on the field was great."
Posey said he feels good physically through the early part of camp and is hopeful that he'll get a few more at-bats this spring than normal, although he noted that he won't grind unnecessarily if he feels he's in a good rhythm in March.
"I thought he looked great on both sides of the ball," Kapler said. "It was actually the most encouraging part of the day in a lot of ways. High-quality at-bats, saw the ball well, I thought he did a nice job of receiving and worked with the pitchers well and had that nice clean knock to right field. He looked like Buster Posey."