MLB

Buster Posey scratched with hip tightness

“It’s not something that we’re concerned about on a long-term basis,” Kapler said during a Zoom call with reporters. “We think it’s going to be a couple of days. We may just take him through the off-day [on Saturday] just to be cautious, but I really want to stress that it’s not something that we’re concerned about.”

Posey, 33, underwent surgery to address a hip impingement and a torn labrum in his right hip in August 2018. He returned in time to start for the Giants on Opening Day in 2019, but the hip issue still seemed to sap his power for the second consecutive season, as he hit .257 with a career-low .688 OPS and seven home runs over 114 games.

Posey appeared poised to bounce back in 2020, but he ended up sitting out the 60-game regular season due to COVID-19 concerns. He reported to Spring Training last month feeling revitalized after the year off, but Kapler said the six-time All-Star and former National League MVP winner began to feel some hip discomfort earlier this week.

“He’s felt some irritation for a couple of days, and we wanted to let it calm down,” Kapler said.

Top prospect Joey Bart started behind the plate in place of Posey and caught veteran right-hander Johnny Cueto on Tuesday.

Kapler also provided an update on left-hander Alex Wood, who visited a spine specialist on Tuesday and underwent a “minor” ablation procedure to help alleviate stiffness in his back.

Kapler said he doesn’t necessarily believe Wood can be ruled out for Opening Day, but the 30-year-old veteran hasn’t pitched since March 9 and will have to ramp up quickly to be ready for the Giants’ season opener in Seattle on April 1.

“We’ve gotten assurances that he’s going to be able to go at his tolerance after the procedure,” Kapler said. “He’s going to be down from throwing for a couple of days, and then we’re going to see how he’s doing at that point.”

Wood, who joined the Giants’ on a one-year, $3 million deal over the offseason, is projected to be the lone left-hander in the starting rotation, which also includes Cueto, Kevin Gausman, Anthony DeSclafani and Aaron Sanchez. If Wood opens the season on the injured list, the Giants could have Logan Webb fill in. Webb, 24, has impressed this spring by tossing six shutout innings with 10 strikeouts over his first three Cactus League starts.

Ramos survives first wave of cuts

The Giants announced their first round of roster cuts on Monday, optioning or reassigning 25 players to Minor League camp. The list included most of their top young prospects, but there was one notable exception: outfield prospect Heliot Ramos.

Ramos, 21, has enjoyed a torrid spring thus far and entered Tuesday batting .435 (10-for-23) with three home runs over 10 Cactus League games. He isn’t viewed as a candidate for the Opening Day roster, but he’s shown enough that the Giants felt compelled to let him stick around for a while longer.

“We see Heliot as an advanced prospect,” Kapler said. “Heliot has done a really nice job for us in camp. We want to reward good performance. We’re not always going to, because we may have other reasons for an option or a reassignment. But in this particular case, we think he’s having a great camp, and we just want to see a little bit more.”

Ramos said he hasn’t had a formal conversation with Kapler about his performance in camp thus far, but he hopes to continue to open eyes this spring.

“I feel like I’ve been working hard,” Ramos said. “I’ve been trying to do my job and getting after it. I play hard, run the bases hard and try to take good ABs.”

Ramos said one aspect of big league camp he’s enjoyed is getting the opportunity to test himself against opposing pitchers in Cactus League action. He spent last summer working out at the Giants’ alternate training site in Sacramento, where he faced the same pitchers over and over again and became familiar with their tendencies.

“At the alternate site, we saw the guys every day, so I kind of knew what they threw already,” Ramos said. “Right now, it’s just adjusting every day to different pitchers every inning because they throw one, two or three innings, so it’s kind of quick. It’s not like in the season where you face the same pitcher for like six innings, sometimes seven if he’s throwing good. Right now, it’s just adjusting. I like it because it keeps my mind working and keeps my mind busy in the game.”

Cueto threw 71 pitches and was charged with six runs on six hits and four walks over parts of four innings in his third Cactus League start on Tuesday night.

Cueto, 35, opened his outing with two scoreless innings, but he surrendered three consecutive hits to start the third and departed with the bases loaded and one out. He re-entered the game in the fourth, but he faced five batters and was unable to record an out, once again exiting with the bases loaded. Wandy Peralta subsequently gave up a two-out grand slam to Nick Solak, putting Texas ahead, 7-5.

“It wasn’t my night,” Cueto said in Spanish. “I couldn’t place my pitches where I wanted to.”

Cueto also struggled to get on the same page with Bart, who has had trouble catching the Dominican right-hander in the past. Last year, Cueto developed a better rapport with Chadwick Tromp, another Spanish-speaker who eventually established himself as Cueto’s personal catcher.

“We need to get more in sync,” Cueto said of Bart. “It seems like we’re always lost.”

Kapler believes some of the blame for those communication issues ultimately falls on the coaching staff and said they’ll work to improve that relationship moving forward.

“Perhaps it was a good thing that we knocked some rust off with Joey and Johnny,” Kapler said. “It’s certainly something that we have to get better at as a coaching staff. We hold some responsibility in getting those two guys synced up, and they have some responsibility as well. We will get it right. There’s no denying that it wasn’t where it needed to be tonight.”

• Veteran infielders Evan Longoria and Brandon Crawford each homered to emerge as the Giants’ offensive stars on Tuesday. Longoria put the Giants on the board with a two-run shot to left field in the second and then added a two-run homer to right field in the third. Crawford delivered a solo shot to right in the sixth for his first home run of the spring.

Longoria, 35, has yet to start a Cactus League game at third base due to plantar fasciitis, but he’s managed to establish a nice rhythm at the plate by logging at-bats at designated hitter this spring. Kapler has said he thinks Longoria could be ready to play defense in a game following Saturday’s off-day.

“It’s definitely trending in the right direction,” Longoria said. “I’m not concerned about being able to play solid defense when I do get out there. I’m more focused on trying to be as healthy as I can when the season starts.”

• Right-hander Reyes Moronta entered the game in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and no outs and proceeded to strike out the side to escape the jam. Moronta, who is coming off shoulder surgery, topped out at 95 mph, a nice uptick in velocity after he sat around 92 mph in his Cactus League debut last week.

• Right-hander Matt Wisler looked sharp on Tuesday, striking out the side in a perfect ninth inning. Left-handers Caleb Baragar and José Álvarez also worked a scoreless inning apiece. Baragar returned to the mound for the first time since March 1 after being slowed by hamstring tightness, while Álvarez made his Giants debut after joining the club on a one-year, $1.15 million deal last month.

Gausman will make his second Cactus League start when the Giants head to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on Wednesday to face the Rockies at 1:10 p.m. PT. Gausman will be opposed by Colorado right-hander Germán Márquez.


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