The Giants talked all offseason about how they did add a marquee talent back to their lineup, it just wasn't through free agency or trade. But fans will have to wait longer than normal to see Buster Posey's return on Opening Day.
Posey is batting seventh against Seattle Mariners lefty Marco Gonzales, something he hasn't done in a starting role since July 5, 2010, his 39th career game. Manager Gabe Kapler said that's a sign that the Giants are running a pretty deep lineup out there.
"We're talking about a perennial All-Star and Hall of Fame-caliber player," he said. "It just speaks to the depth of the lineup we throw out there against left-handed pitching."
The Giants have Austin Slater, Mike Yastrzemski, Donovan Solano, Evan Longoria, Brandon Belt and Wilmer Flores ahead of Posey, and it's hard to argue given what the majority of those players did last season. Longoria is the only one who didn't put up big numbers while Posey was away, but he might have been Kapler's most dangerous hitter this spring.
Posey will be playing his first game since Sept. 29, 2019, the day Giants fans said goodbye to Bruce Bochy. Kapler always was going to have leeway to do things differently, in part because that's why he's here and in part because he doesn't go back a decade with some of these players. It's easier in this situation to move a franchise legend like Posey out of the heart of the order, and he said Posey understood.
"I think Buster is a true professional in every sense of the word," Kapler said. "And I think our players understand that, in particular this year, if you're batting a little lower in the lineup it's because somebody really capable is batting higher. I think our players are professional enough to understand that."
Kapler doesn't expect to use the same lineups too often, and there's a good chance Posey is back in the heart of the group for a different matchup. On Thursday, the Giants are just happy to have him back, knowing what a difference he can make on both sides of the ball.
"We talked a lot during spring training about how difficult it was to have inexperienced catching at the major league level on Opening Day last year," Kapler said. "Granted, there was a lot of talent and we had guys with ceilings, but we didn't have that stabilizing force behind the plate that we have in Buster.
"It provides a lot of confidence for our entire group to write Buster Posey's name into the lineup."