Giants

Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos on track to return to San Jose Giants in early June

Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos on track to return to San Jose Giants in early June

With the San Francisco Giants struggling at the start of the season, fans' attention turned to the San Jose Giants, where top prospects Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos started the year.

But in the span of 11 days in April, both players went down with injuries, Bart's more serious than the one sustained by Ramos.

Now we have an idea of when they might be return to the Baby Giants' lineup.

"They are both down in Arizona right now rehabbing their injuries," Radio broadcaster Joe Ritzo said on the latest Inside the San Jose Giants podcast. "And the rehab is going as scheduled for both players so far. So that is very good news and they are each on track to return to the San Jose Giants in early June."

Bart suffered a fractured left hand on April 15 and was expected to miss 4-to-6 weeks. An early June return would exceed that timetable, but it's not an injury that can or should be rushed.

As for Ramos, he went on the injured list on April 26 after experiencing left knee soreness.

[RELATED: Anderson impresses in MLB debut]

"They obviously still have to go through more of the rehab process, they'll eventually be playing in some extended spring training games down there," Ritzo said. "That will be a big hurdle to cross. But once that happens and they prove they are healthy, they both should be back in the middle of this San Jose lineup."

It's been a while since the Giants have had prospects with this much upside. Once they return, it will be crucial for Bart and Ramos to stay healthy and finish the season strong.

Farhan Zaidi, Gabe Kapler show full support for Buster Posey's decision

Farhan Zaidi, Gabe Kapler show full support for Buster Posey's decision

The Zoom call that was set up for Buster Posey on Friday morning included dozens of reporters, but also several senior Giants executives, members of the ownership group, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and manager Gabe Kapler. A few minutes in, another participant joined.

Zaidi pulled his young son out of his crib and said that, on his first birthday, he wanted to participate. The two then displayed a message for Posey, who had announced a few minutes earlier that he was opting out of the 2020 season to care for twin girls the Poseys are adopting. 

The decision is the right one, and while it puts the Giants in a roster bind two weeks from their opener, Zaidi and Kapler showed 100 percent support for Posey and his decision. This was in part because of the faith Posey has shown in both men over the last two years. 

"We want to congratulate you and your family and say we wholeheartedly support your decision," Zaidi said. "People may not know this, but Buster was incredibly supportive of me in my first season. I had a lot of conversations with him and he made the transition for me a lot easier. I never had a chance to publicly thank him for that, and I want to do that now. I know I speak on behalf of a lot of people in the Giants family when I say I support you and we're really going to miss you."

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Posey was the lone player to show up to Kapler's press conference in November, one that got contentious at times, and spoke up in support of the new manager at the time. Kapler brought that up Friday.

"He just is supportive and thoughtful and caring," Kapler said. "It's an absolute honor to be able to return that support and say I think Buster is making an incredible and thoughtful decision for his family and the one that makes the most sense. I'm proud to be on this call listening and supporting today."

Kapler has two children of his own, and both fathers said they were in touch with Posey in recent weeks as he wrestled with the decision. Zaidi praised Posey for keeping the team in the loop, and said he would take any contributions Posey has off the field over the next two months, although the Giants want him to take as much time as he needs to care for his two new daughters and the rest of his family. 

Posey was instrumental this spring in helping Kapler get buy-in from the clubhouse, and he spoke up on a Zoom call last week and urged teammates to take the coronavirus seriously. That set an early tone for the Giants, and no matter how this season goes, there's little doubt they'll welcome Posey back with open arms next season. 

[RELATED: What Posey decision means for Joey Bart]

Posey plans to return in 2021 and help Zaidi and Kapler continue to build. For now, though, he will take care of his family knowing the Giants have his back. 

"I ultimately would still make the same decision no matter whether I had the support or not, but it's certainly nice to have the leaders of the organization back me in my decision," he said. 

What Buster Posey's decision means for Joey Bart, Giants' catchers

What Buster Posey's decision means for Joey Bart, Giants' catchers

Because the Giants were split into three workout groups and Buster Posey missed three days, the starting catcher had not had a lot of time to spend with top prospects Joey Bart and Patrick Bailey. 

The latter two worked out in the mornings, alternating reps as they worked toward a future in the big leagues. That day, when Bart and Bailey split time, is at least two years away, but now the Giants are tasked with deciding how soon they want to jump into the deep end with another young catcher.

A decade after he broke through, Buster Posey is opting out of the season to spend time with his family, which recently adopted twin girls who were born prematurely. The Giants were overwhelmingly supportive, but they also know they have to spend the weekend having tough conversations. 

First among them: is it time to turn the starting catching job over to Bart, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft just two years ago. Bart had a strong spring training, but has just 22 games of experience above A-ball. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Farhan Zaidi's initial lean seemed to be no. He talked of the veterans who are in camp and said the Giants could look outside the organization for immediate help. He mentioned that a guy having a good camp is "just not the same as being able to see those guys perform at other levels."

"This is a tough environment to evaluate young position players that you maybe went into the situation thinking they need more competitive reps at the upper levels -- Double-A, Triple-A," Zaidi said. "We're having these workouts, they're in live BP and a guy takes a good swing and hits a ball 430 feet, that's all well and good, but it's not really a substitute for getting the 100, 200, 300 at-bats that you might be getting in Double-A and Triple-A where you get a much better sense of whether a guy is capable of handling major league pitching on a day in, day out basis."

Before they found out Posey might opt out, the Giants had Bart ticketed for Sacramento as part of the expanded player pool. They had not ruled out the possibility that he would be used at the big league level this year, but he was not in the Opening Day conversation. Rob Brantly and Tyler Heineman have been competing to back up Posey, but combined they have just 105 big league starts. Chadwick Tromp has experience at the upper levels of the minors but not in the big leagues. 

"Obviously (Heineman) and Rob Brantly have been in the conversation to be backing up Buster and there's going to be more opportunity there," Zaidi said. "Whether we ultimately decide it's a timeshare or there's a starter and a backup, we just have to see. We just added Chadwick Tromp also to the camp and he has taken some nice swings since coming in. 

"At least in terms of those three guys who have played in Triple-A and some in the big leagues, you've got a left-handed bat (Brantly), a right-handed bat (Tromp), and a switch-hitter (Heineman), so it could mean different configurations. I think we still certainly are open to looking to someone outside the organization, perhaps with somebody with a little more experience, especially if we think it'll help us early on in the season."

Given that most teams have five or six catchers in camp already, it may be hard for Zaidi to find external options. Russell Martin, the longtime Dodger, is still a free agent and looms as an obvious first call to make. He played 83 games for the Dodgers last year, and while he didn't hit much, he could step in and lead a staff right away. Some Dodgers players have been clamoring publicly for the team to bring him back as a backup for Will Smith. The Giants also could attempt to trade for a veteran who is buried on the depth chart in another summer camp. 

Zaidi said the Giants would add a sixth catcher at some point just to help catch bullpens. They are now remarkably thin at the position, with two young prospects and two more players with little or no big league experience among their group. Ricardo Genoves was in camp and has been working out during the break, and he could be a possibility to help out, but that's just to catch bullpens and do work behind the scenes. 

[RELATED: Posey gets it right again with toughest decision of career]

The Giants will need a starting catcher at some point. There's no replacing a Buster Posey, but one day the Giants hoped Bart could try. Perhaps they'll decide in the next 13 days that the best option is to start that experiment now. 

"It's just going to open up opportunity for all of the catchers in camp," Zaidi said. "Buster was obviously slated to be our starting catcher. There are more reps, there's more opportunity, and that goes for all the guys in camp."