While Buster Posey's backups generally only see the field a third of the time, they can often become more popular than just about anyone in the clubhouse. Nick Hundley was a fan favorite and won the Willie Mac Award. His replacement, Stephen Vogt, easily carried his popularity in Oakland over to the other side of the bridge.
Curt Casali, signed Monday, seems to be on the right path. The veteran was easygoing, flashed the sense of humor that seems to be a prerequisite to be a backup catcher, and spoke glowingly of new teammates like Mike Yastrzemski -- one of his best friends -- and Posey while meeting the local media for the first time.
And when asked over the Zoom call about Trevor Bauer, the biggest offseason target for much of the fan base, he offered just what many Giants fans want to hear.
"I can try and sell him if you guys want me to," Casali said. "I talk to him frequently."
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Casali caught six of Bauer's 11 starts in 2020 when the right-hander posted a 1.73 ERA and won his first Cy Young Award. Bauer is now far and away the best pitcher on the market, although it's been a quiet offseason for that pursuit. There has not been any indication Bauer is close to a deal, and even the rumor mill has been lacking in the usual drama. A recent report about what Bauer is seeking was quickly shot down by the pitcher and his agent.
The Giants, in need of at least one more starting pitcher, make sense as a suitor. Sources have downplayed their interest this offseason, but even then it's hard to know what's true. Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris do not lead a front office that leaks one way or the other. Casali, the latest addition, said he simply hopes Bauer takes advantage of finally hitting the open market.
"He's earned the right to be a free agent," he said. "Few people get to be in his position right now. I hope he enjoys it, I hope he gets what's due to him, in all honesty. Would I love to have him be a part of the Giants? Yes, absolutely. If I'm ever instructed to woo him I will."
He would be part of a large group if the Giants get to that point. Casali will help catch former Reds pitchers Kevin Gausman and Anthony DeSclafani. He said hitting coach Donnie Ecker was "huge" in terms of luring him to San Francisco, and Ecker also was in Cincinnati with Bauer.
While the ace has a complicated reputation, Casali had nothing but positive reviews. He called Bauer a "special pitcher" and said he felt like he won the Cy Young when Bauer's name was called. In 39 2/3 innings throwing to Casali, Bauer allowed just 20 hits and struck out 54 batters.
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"He's always ahead of the curve. He's the most analytical pitcher I've ever caught, he understands exactly how his body works, he's extremely smart, he's extremely well-prepared when he gets on the mound," Casali said. "He's the one who is leading the pregame meetings every time. He knows exactly what the hitters are, what their capabilities are. He knows exactly how to attack them.
"That dude, he lives baseball. That's what he does. Between working out, taking care of his body, physical testing between starts, and what he does from a social media perspective -- I don't know how he does it, honestly. I think it's really, really impressive."