The Giants like to joke that their biggest addition this offseason is actually the face of the franchise. Buster Posey will be back after a summer away, and while just about everything about the organization is familiar to him, he is pretty much like a free agent addition when it comes to handling the pitching staff.
The bullpen will be made up largely out of guys who were not with the team in 2019, when Posey last played, and he has very little experience with the projected rotation. Posey knows Johnny Cueto as well as anyone, but he caught Logan Webb just twice in his rookie year and never worked with Kevin Gausman outside of spring training. The Giants have added Anthony DeSclafani and Alex Wood to the mix in recent weeks.
While Posey has never worked with Gausman, DeSclafani or Wood in a game, they all have been around long enough to know that he's seen plenty of them from the batter's box and the opposing dugout. They share a common trait that intrigues him, too.
"I guess when I think about those guys, they're pitchers, right -- they have power stuff if they want it, but they also seem like they're thinkers and think through lineups, and those are fun guys to work with," Posey said during a phone conversation last week. "Cueto is the same way. Cueto is going to adjust as he goes along, he's not going to throw as hard as he can. That's what I'm hopeful for, to be working with somebody that wants to pitch their way and think their way through a game."
Posey is awfully busy these days as he raises four young children and prepares for his return to the field, but if he listened to any of Wood's introductory Zoom call earlier this week, he would have been pleased. Asked how he has succeeded in the big leagues for so long, Wood said it's because he knows how to think and battle his way through starts.
"I feel like I know how to pitch, so the days I go out for a start and I feel like I don't have my best stuff, I can still compete with the best of them and give our guys a chance to stay within striking distance and have a chance to win each time out," Wood said. "That's something I really pride myself on. I'm looking forward to a healthy 2021, when I post every fifth day and give us a solid chance to win every time out. That's my goal."
Wood started against the Giants once last year and said he was struck by how tough their lineup was against left-handed pitching. That was without Posey, a guy he has faced more than all but six big league hitters. Posey is 7-for-26 against Wood with a pair of doubles and three strikeouts. He's 1-for-7 against DeSclafani and hitless in three at-bats against Gausman.
Posey noted he's seen all three pitchers go deep in games against the Giants. It'll now be up to him to guide them through similar situations in San Francisco, and it's something the pitchers are looking forward to. At the end of his first season with the Giants, Gausman said Posey's return was a big reason he might come back for 2021.
"He was a big reason why I decided to sign here," Gausman said. "Coming back and knowing that he's going to be here next year definitely adds another element to it."