Alex Wood has spent his entire career in the National League, meaning 27 previous matchups against Buster Posey, his new catcher. By the standards Posey has set, Wood has actually fared pretty well, especially when you consider that he's a left-handed pitcher.
In those matchups, Posey has a .269 average, no homers and a .642 OPS, but Wood laughed Thursday when asked about holding Posey in check.
"I think you answered your own question when you said, 'He's only hitting .270 off you,'" he said, smiling. "That's pretty good, honestly."
Wood has high standards, too, and he's hoping to hit his past heights after two injury-marred seasons that led to a one-year deal with the Giants. Like the rest of the newcomers, he'll benefit from Posey's return. The two worked together for the first time Thursday, with Wood breezing through a 1-2-3 inning against the White Sox in his Giants debut.
"I think like anything there's a little bit of a learning curve getting used to guys when you're behind the plate catching, but Buster is a really smart guy, he's caught a lot of guys, a lot of really talented guys over the years," Wood said. "Just to get out there today and start to get a rapport with him and him to learn me and where I like him to set up, the target, the visual, all that stuff, it was great.
"He's been a lot of fun as far as just asking me what I like, what do I need, just trying to help me as much as he can. It's been a blast so far."
Posey's return has brought some new energy to camp, and not just because his right-handed bat is once again in the heart of the lineup. Several pitchers have popped into the Zoom room and talked about the adjustments Posey has helped them make during bullpen sessions.
"There has been a different buzz around Buster," manager Gabe Kapler said. "His at-bats have been good, he's doing a really nice job behind the plate. One thing I noticed today was in between innings, (when he's) throwing the ball down to second base, a real live arm, good feet, good mechanics. Buster is smiling a lot and just seems to be in a really good place, and as a result I think the camp is in a really good place as well."
That camp is full of newcomers who are adjusting their pitch mixes under this second-year coaching staff, and Posey is right in the middle of it all. Wood said he came over after their first bullpen session together and talked about what he was seeing differently standing behind the plate as opposed to alongside it.
This version of Wood is slightly different than past ones. He has altered his changeup grip and said he's also standing more upright as he throws his slider in an effort to get more depth on the pitch. The early results were good, as Wood threw just fastballs and sliders in getting through his opening inning of the spring. The Giants are hoping to see a lot more of that from a veteran who now gets to work with one of the game's best pitch-callers instead of trying to get him out.
"He's not a fun one to face, man. He just takes care of the zone so well," Wood said of Posey. "He doesn't chase a lot. He always is putting barrels on balls. I can't even tell you -- I honestly would rather have him have a homer or two off me because he's gotten so many hits off my changeup that he's just dumped into the outfield.
"I've beat him and he just gets hit. He's like one of the most frustrating people ever to face because he can beat you in so many different ways, so it's nice to be on the same team as him now for sure."