ORACLE PARK — After missing eight games with a hamstring injury, San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey is not only healthy, but he’s starting for the Giants in the finale of a short, two-game set against the San Diego Padres. Posey got a nice ovation as his name was announced before first pitch.
As a bonus, the Giants also have the services of Brandon Belt. The first baseman missed the finale against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday with a stomach virus, and then, while trying to get heated up to pinch hit, cranked his neck, and so didn’t start Tuesday’s opener against San Diego. He did draw a seventh-inning leadoff walk that set the stage for a game-winning rally.
“We checked on him earlier in the day, and he’s good to go,” said manager Bruce Bochy.
In the bottom of the first, Belt bunted for a base hit against the shift on a 3-0 count.
Neither will have any restrictions. Aramis Garcia, in a corresponding move to Posey’s activation off the Injured List, has been optioned to Sacramento.
Pitching coach Curt Young, who had to undergo an urgent operation on May 31 to rid his knee of an infection, is resting in Arizona, and may to make it back to the Bay Area for the weekend to visit the team and its doctors, though he won’t be in the dugout, and likely won’t return any time soon.
“It’s sure slower than he had hoped,” Bochy said of Young’s recovery. “It’s what the doctors thought, and it’s going to take a little bit of time.”
Young, 59, had the surgery late at night on a Friday while the team was in Baltimore.
Bullpen coach Matt Herges has taken over his duties during Young’s absence, with Triple-A pitching coach Steve Kline joining the club as the bullpen coach.
Bochy said that, as part of the club’s efforts to get Tyler Austin more consistent at-bats, he’ll play first base as well as getting more reps in the outfield.
On Tuesday, Steven Duggar popped a 397-foot, two-run homer to right center, the first sign that the swing adjustments he’s been working on are paying off.
In his rookie season, Duggar hit .255, and was starting to get hot when he injured his shoulder on a dive in center field. This season, he’s started slowly, hitting .236 in 61 games, with four home runs, two triples and 11 doubles in 229 at-bats.
“He’s been working on some things at the plate,” Bochy said. “We’re trying to make a little adjustment with him, with his approach at the plate, which is going to allow him to free up and handle both in and out on pitches. He’s been working hard the last two or three days, and it’s good to see him hit a ball like that.”
The adjustment should shorten up Duggar’s swing and enable him to get to more pitches, more consistently.
Bochy has been paying attention to Heliot Ramos’ numbers at Single-A San Jose. Last night, he hit his eighth homer in 111 at-bats against one of Oakland’s best young pitchers, A.J. Puk, who was in his first rehab start since undergoing Tommy John surgery. Ramos, who was slowed by a knee injury earlier this season, is hitting .315 for the San Jose Giants, with nine doubles, 18 RBIs and 19 runs scored.
“I think, and I thought, that once he got into professional ball, once it clicked to him, he’d get on a faster pace,” Bochy said. “Hopefully, that’s what’s happening now. We got a chance to see him this spring, and he’s got some huge potential, obviously … With the bat speed, this guy can do some damage.”
Reliever Travis Bergen, out since May 21 due to a left shoulder strain, made his first rehab appearance on Friday with the San Jose Giants, and made another on Monday. He’s thrown 1 2/3 shutout innings, allowed two hits and struck out three.
“He’s coming along fine,” Bochy said. “I don’t know how many more exactly he will take, but he’s been coming up here between his outings, and feels great. All going well there. Just a matter of what date we decide to activate him. At least a couple more.”