It took just six pitches on Monday night for the Giants to be reminded of how important Buster Posey is to their postseason hopes. Posey homered to left in his first at-bat in more than two weeks, helping the Giants take an early lead at Dodger Stadium and ultimately win the first game of a huge four-game series.
Posey's biggest test came behind the plate. Manager Gabe Kapler held backup catcher Curt Casali back as a pinch-hitter until the top of the ninth just in case Posey's thumb acted up, but Posey did just fine on a night when he caught 157 pitches, most of them coming in around 95 mph.
"I did check in with Buster frequently through the game and made sure there at the end that he was feeling strong enough to get through the game," Kapler said. "Thumbs up."
Posey is back in there Tuesday night, hitting second in a game that's expected to include a lot of right-hander Josiah Gray, the Dodgers' top pitching prospect. He won't play all four in Los Angeles, but at some point, the usage plan should change.
Posey said he expects some soreness as he works his way back in, but he also said that later in the season there will be a time "that we push a little bit more" with playing time. Throughout the first half, Posey essentially played two of every three games.
Posey had two hits Monday, raising his average to .330. He has a .978 OPS and 13 homers, so the Giants will certainly take every at-bat they can get, but Kapler said it's not yet the time to push. He's not going to force anything even as the Giants face the Dodgers six more times in the next couple of weeks without Brandon Crawford.
"I think we have that mindset to push Buster," Kapler said. "But we'll evaluate what that time is not on the schedule or opponent, but what we feel his body can withstand based on how many games are left on the schedule."
The Giants actually got quite a bit out of the catcher position as Posey missed two weeks with the bone bruise, with Curt Casali going 7-for-18 with a couple of homers. That was one silver lining, and Kapler saw another potential one from the short IL stint.
"Once you're in the season you don't get to the ballpark at 100 percent, so that's kind of the silver lining from an injury," he said. "The whole body tends to heal, and I don't think there's any better example of that than what happened because of Buster's year off last year."