If anyone knows the good taking a year off from baseball can do for Buster Posey, it's his manager Gabe Kapler, who did so in 2007.
Kapler walked away from his playing career after nine seasons in the big leagues to be the Boston Red Sox's Single-A manager for the Greenville Drive in 2007. He then returned in 2008 as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers and had one of his best seasons at the plate. Kapler hit .301 (his highest since 2000) for the Brewers with eight home runs (his most since 2001) and had a career-high .838 OPS.
"I was never even close to as good of a player as Buster Posey is, but I did take a year in off in my playing career -- kind of right in the middle of my career to go manage in 2007 -- and then I came pack and played in 2008 and 2009 and 2010," Kapler said Monday on MLB Network Radio before the Giants' 3-2 win over the San Diego Padres. "What I can speak to is how good it is for the body to not go through the grind for a year in the middle of your career."
Posey rightfully picked family over the game by opting out of 2020's 60-game shortened season. In his first at-bat, he showed a year off might have been exactly what he needed. The 34-year-old homered on his first at-bat since 2019, and then went deep again the next game.
It was the first time Posey had homered in back to back games since May 2017.
"What we're seeing with Buster is kind of a fresh body and health," Kapler said. "We're seeing the hips move better, we're seeing the bat whistle through the zone."
Posey has three hits in his first three games back -- two solo shots and a single. But that isn't the only part of his game that has impressed Kapler early on.
The manager actually is keeping a close watch on Posey in between innings.
"It's really interesting to watch him throw between innings," Kapler said. "There's a lot of arm strength, there's a lot of foot quickness. And we're not talking about a young player in the early stages of his career. I think it was a pretty big blessing for Buster in many ways."
Kapler is in his second season as the Giants' manager, and his first finally being able to coach Posey on a daily basis. He expected to have Posey behind the dish for around 120 games if he stays healthy, which of course would be a big boost to the Giants.
So far, so good for Posey and the 2-2 Giants. Kapler clearly is a lot happier having the Giants legend in the lineup this time around.
"Obviously I think there are reasons he wishes he would have played last year and there are reasons the Giants would have loved to have him," Kapler said. "Obviously he dealt with some family things that he needed to prioritize and we support that.
"But certainly he looks like a fresh and healthy player and I think that's exciting for Giants fans. It certainly gives me confidence writing his name in the lineup."