SAN FRANCISCO -- Though his role in Friday night's fracas was destined to dominate the headlines, Eli Whiteside's bat and glove showed why Giants manager Bruce Bochy has given the catcher his endorsement.
The Giants didn't acquire a catcher before Sunday's Trade Deadline, and they still might try to upgrade behind the plate. But if they don't, Bochy feels entirely comfortable using Whiteside and Chris Stewart the rest of the season.
This became evident when general manager Brian Sabean mentioned that Bochy felt "protective" of the pair, who have shared playing time since Buster Posey suffered his season-ending left leg injury May 25.
"I'm sure they can be considered more backup-type catchers," Bochy said Friday. "But since their role has picked up, they're a reason we're where we are."
Whiteside looked like anything but a backup in the Giants' 9-2 loss to Philadelphia. He belted a fifth-inning homer and contributed a remarkable sixth-inning play when he lunged to make a barehanded catch of Vance Worley's fouled-off bunt attempt, grabbing the ball not much more than a couple of feet off the ground.
"I saw it go up and couldn't get the glove over there, so I just threw my hand out," Whiteside said.
What made Whiteside's grab even more stunning was the sequence of his actions. He actually whipped off his catcher's mask before catching the ball.
Later in that inning, right-hander Ramon Ramirez plunked Philadelphia's Shane Victorino with a pitch, initiating a benches-clearing fracas that resulted in Whiteside's ejection.
Stewart, who has spent most of his 10-year professional career at Triple-A, reciprocated Bochy's appreciation.
"It's an honor to have your manager stick up for you, especially when there's a lot of people demanding that we need more offense at the position," Stewart said.
Stewart, 29, understands the vulnerability of his roster status and thus takes nothing for granted.
"I'm not an established guy, so I definitely know that my position on the roster isn't set in stone," he said. "Any day something can happen and I'll be out of here. So I take every day as if it could be my last."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.