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Giants' Posey drives in three in '10 debut

Giants' Posey drives in three in '10 debut

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Buster Posey Era began Saturday for the Giants, though it could be just a trial run.

As anticipated, the Giants recalled Posey, their No. 1 prospect, from Triple-A Fresno to bolster their sagging offense. Not surprisingly, Posey immediately joined the starting lineup, batting sixth against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Posey went 3-for-4 with three RBIs in his first game of the 2010 season. In his first at-bat, Posey lined an RBI single to center field to give the Giants a 2-0 lead with two outs in the first inning. Posey hit a fly ball to right field for an out in the third, and added another RBI single up the middle in the fifth. In his final at-bat, Posey drove in Pablo Sandoval with a single to left.

Asked if he felt excited or nervous, Posey replied, "A little of both. Mostly excited. There's a few butterflies. But I think that's pretty normal. I'm ready to get the game going."

But Posey, who has been groomed as San Francisco's catcher of the future, started at first base, where he will receive most if not all of his playing time. That's the position where the Giants can most easily accommodate him, since they're satisfied with the tandem of Bengie Molina and Eli Whiteside behind the plate and first baseman Aubrey Huff can play left field. Posey began playing first base in Spring Training and appeared in 12 games there with Fresno.

Moreover, with Opening Day left fielder Mark DeRosa (left wrist) sidelined until Friday at the earliest and .326-hitting shortstop Edgar Renteria (right hamstring) on the 15-day disabled list until June 10, the Giants figured this was an opportune time to summon Posey. The 23-year-old ranked fourth in Triple-A with a .349 average in 47 games with six home runs, 32 RBIs, a .442 on-base percentage and a .552 slugging percentage.

"Right now we feel we need some help with this offense," said manager Bruce Bochy, whose club entered Saturday ranked 14th in the National League in runs scored. "This is not long term, but it's going to make sense for us until we get all our guys back and we'll see where we're at."

Posey, who was informed by Fresno manager Steve Decker of his promotion late Friday night, deflected the mere suggestion that he would need to become the offense's focal point.

"I think there's a lot of good hitters on this team," Posey said. "I don't feel like I have to come out and do extraordinary things to get wins. I'm just going to try to keep it as simple as possible."

Bochy wouldn't guarantee that Posey would remain with the Giants if DeRosa and Renteria return healthy and effective. The roster glut could thicken if power-hitting left fielder Pat Burrell, signed Saturday to a Triple-A contract, plays himself into Major League shape. Asked if Posey would spend the rest of the season with the Giants if some or all of these veterans return, Bochy said, "I don't want to get into that yet."

Though Posey probably won't catch much during this stint with the Giants, Bochy emphasized that the rookie's development at that position won't be sacrificed. It was as a catcher that Posey was selected fifth overall by the Giants in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft and signed to a $6.2 million bonus.

"He's going to get back behind the plate," Bochy said. "We'll make sure he gets enough catching this year, believe me, and he will. Maybe not this week or the next couple of weeks, but he'll get back behind the plate. We feel he'll catch enough games this year."

Winner of the Johnny Bench Award as the nation's top collegiate catcher with Florida State University in 2008, Posey believes that first base is only a temporary home for him.

"Personally, I view it as a short-term [thing]," he said. "You never know, I guess."

The ramifications of Posey's arrival are considerable. Huff's shift to left field forced Nate Schierholtz, batting .291 and playing excellent defense in right field, to the bench. Schierholtz likely would start if leadoff batter Andres Torres or center fielder Aaron Rowand gets a break. Torres would play center when Rowand rests.

"That's what we'll decide every day, who gets a day [off] out there," Bochy said.

Outfielder John Bowker and first baseman Travis Ishikawa fall further down the depth chart at their respective positions.

It had long been speculated that Posey's presence would spell the end of Molina's tenure with the Giants. Though that's not immediately the case, Bochy still felt compelled to inform Molina of the move personally.

"I told him, 'Hey, man, it's not like I own the team,'" Molina said. "It's kind of hard for me to say something. I have to keep my mouth shut and take what's coming."

Lke most Giants personnel, Molina has been won over by Posey's earnest demeanor.

"He's a great kid," Molina said. "You can see that he was very, very well raised. ... You watch. He's going to have a great career."

To clear a spot for Posey on the 25-man active roster, the Giants optioned right-hander Waldis Joaquin to Fresno.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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