SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (CBS/AP) – Matt Cain walked in from the bullpen and heard the roar of the San Francisco Giants fans at Scottsdale Stadium.
“I thought everybody really loved me,” Cain said, “and then I looked behind me and saw Buster.”
The return of Buster Posey was the story of the day for the Giants in Friday’s 6-3 Cactus League victory over a Reds split-squad, with Freddy Sanchez’s return a close second.
Posey and Sanchez, both key cogs in the Giants’ championship run in 2010, missed most of 2011 with injuries. Posey tore ligaments in his left ankle in a home-plate collision on May 25, and Sanchez dislocated his shoulder June 10. Neither had played in a game until Friday.
Posey caught two innings and hit a flyout in his only trip to the plate, while Sanchez was 1 for 4.
“It was fun,” Posey said. “I’ve put in a lot of work. Even though it was only two innings, it was nice to be out there.”
Posey admitted to some anxiety before the game, but he felt better after passing the few tests the game provided. He had to drop to his knees to block a few balls, which he did flawlessly. He had to pop out of his crouch to throw to second on Miguel Cairo’s steal attempt. Cairo was safe, but Posey said he was satisfied with the throw.
“It was good to see Buster back out there playing again,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “I know he was excited. It was great to see the ovation he got when he walked out to the bullpen. There was a little extra energy in the crowd and in the dugout today than you normally feel in a spring training game. It was fun. Everyone was happy to see Buster playing again.”
Bochy said Posey will catch again on Sunday, playing four innings.
As for Sanchez, the Giants were happy to get him back into the lineup, but the true test of his surgically repaired shoulder will come when he is ready to play in the field. Bochy said the plan is for Sanchez to DH again on Sunday and play second base on Monday.
“Playing defense will be a big steppingstone for me,” Sanchez said. “I feel like I’m getting a little stronger each day.”
Cain picked up the victory with three scoreless innings, striking out four. He has not allowed a run in five innings in his two starts this spring.
Reds starter Aroldis Chapman pitched two perfect innings, striking out two. The Reds are looking to see if the 24-year-old Cuban can pitch in the rotation instead of the bullpen, where he spent his first two major league seasons.
Chapman is in the running for the No. 5 starter job with Homer Bailey.
However, manager Dusty Baker told reporters this week that an injury to reliever Bill Bray could prompt the Reds to scrap plans to put Chapman in the rotation.
Notes: New Giants OF Melky Cabrera hit a two-run homer, his third of the spring. … Brandon Belt also homered for the Giants. … Todd Frazier hit his second homer of the spring for the Reds. … Ryan Ludwick, who had one single in his first eight at-bats, doubled. … The Reds were 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position.
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