Giants

Buster Posey feels healthy, but Giants still waiting for results at plate

Buster Posey feels healthy, but Giants still waiting for results at plate

WASHINGTON D.C. -- Nolan Arenado came to Oracle Park last week with no home runs, and as surprising as that was, it was even more shocking when he went the first three games of the series without doing his usual damage against Giants pitching. But Arenado hit a homer Sunday, and then promptly went deep Monday and Tuesday in San Diego. All he needed was one to open the floodgates. 

That's not exactly the kind of breakthrough Buster Posey is picturing. Asked about players like Arenado, Posey smiled.

"I'd love to hit three in a row," he said.

Posey would settle for one isolated blast at this point. He hasn't taken a long trot around the bases since last June 19, when he took Dan Straily deep. That's 62 appearances, including 17 this season that have come with a repaired hip. The streak of 229 at-bats without a homer is the longest of Posey's career and fourth-longest among non-pitchers currently. 

Manager Bruce Bochy has remained patient, keeping Posey in the heart of the lineup. Bochy doesn't exactly have a bunch of options for that spot, anyway, but this goes deeper. The only manager Posey has ever known believes he will find his old form, or at least most of it. 

"It's only going to get better with him," Bochy said. 

Posey has tried to keep that mindset, although he admitted you can be challenged mentally when you look up at a scoreboard in the second half of April and see zero homers and just one RBI. 

"You feel a responsibility to your team to drive in runs when you're hitting in that part of the lineup," said Posey, who is batting .196. "At the same time, what's past is past. I know from experience that if you harp on that stuff there's nothing positive that can come from that."

It has for most of April been a struggle to find signs that what's ahead will be more positive. Posey is swinging at pitches outside the strike zone at the highest rate of his career, and his contact rate is the lowest of his career. That has led to a strikeout rate (19 percent) that's seven points above his career average. Posey has pulled just 23.3 percent of the balls he has put in play this season, the lowest rate in the MLB, according to Inside-Edge.

Perhaps all of this is in part because of a change in the way pitchers are approaching the former MVP. It's still a small sample, but Posey is seeing fastballs just 58 percent of the time, which also is the lowest rate of his career. Only three of his hits have come off non-fastballs. 

The Giants are aware of the numbers, but they prefer to focus on the moments when it all clicks. Against the Padres last week, Posey hit two balls at 107 mph in one game. On Wednesday night, he smacked a double off the center field wall in the ninth inning. Those moments have been too spread out, though. 

"I'll feel it for a few games and then I'll kind of lose it," Posey said. "I think it's just a matter of staying positive and understanding that it's a process."

Posey said he's trying to stay even-keel, and he's not thinking about ending the home run drought.

"When you force things you get a little big and you lose some of that quickness," he said of his swing.

From a physical standpoint, he believes he's pretty close to back to normal.

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That's the other factor Bochy is leaning on. Posey is not far removed from major hip surgery, and he has been his old self defensively. Even if the bat isn't there, that has allowed Bochy to comfortably keep his star in the lineup, leading a pitching staff that's carried the team. Posey was off Thursday -- a day game after a night game -- but could play all three games in Pittsburgh this weekend. Bochy said he hasn't needed to sit Posey with a "cranky" hip this season.

"We're getting close to how we normally would work him," Bochy said. "He's bouncing back from these games and is feeling pretty good."

Andrew Suarez returns to big leagues for another shot with Giants

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USATSI

Andrew Suarez returns to big leagues for another shot with Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- For several days, the Giants listed Monday's starter as "TBA," leading to speculation that they would try an opener for a second straight week. Instead, it will be a familiar starter.

Left-hander Andrew Suarez will be recalled from Triple-A Sacramento to make his first big league start of the season. Suarez made 29 starts for the Giants last season, posting a 4.49 ERA in a rookie season that was a bit better than the final numbers indicated. 

Suarez did not make the rotation out of camp and has a 6.33 ERA in six minor league starts. He missed more than two weeks with a hamstring strain and has given up seven earned runs in 8 2/3 innings since returning to Triple-A Sacramento. 

"I'm sure he's chipping a little rust off," manager Bruce Bochy said. "A day like this, especially for a guy that made as many starts as he did, can be pretty uplifting and fire a guy up. We need a starter tomorrow and with his experience and what he did last year, this makes sense for us."

With Suarez and Shaun Anderson set to go the first two games against the Braves, the Giants will have taken a look at all four young pitchers who could be part of a future rotation. Dereck Rodriguez and Tyler Beede already have gotten a look and been optioned. Both are in Triple-A, currently. 

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Given the state of the roster, it's possible either Suarez or Anderson is sent back to Triple-A after his start. Bochy said the young pitchers know the deal. 

"I think they see it around baseball and they understand it," he said. 

Giants trade struggling catcher Erik Kratz to Rays days after DFA

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AP

Giants trade struggling catcher Erik Kratz to Rays days after DFA

Erik Kratz is no longer in the Giants organization. 

Three days after San Francisco designated the veteran catcher for assignment, the Giants traded the 38-year-old to the Tampa Bay Rays. The Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin first reported the news Thursday, and the Giants announced the news shortly thereafter. 

On Monday morning, the player to be named was announced as minor league pitcher Matt Seelinger. He'll report to Class A Augusta.

The Giants traded for Kratz in late March, wanting a veteran backup for Buster Posey while Stephen Vogt recovered from shoulder surgery. 26-year-old catcher Aramis Garcia still had minor-league options, so the front office looked for a more-polished stopgap.

But Kratz struggled in his short time wearing orange and black, slashing .125/.222/.281 in 36 plate appearances. He also made more errors (four) in 11 games behind the dish than he did in 61 with the Brewers (three) in 2018, and caught two out of nine runners stealing. 

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The Kratz trade was not the only move the Giants made at the position Thursday. They also optioned Garcia to Triple-A Sacramento in anticipation that Posey will return to the lineup Friday after a stint on the seven-day concussion list.