SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants' two catchers on the roster were both in the lineup Sunday, with Buster Posey shifting to first base and Hector Sanchez taking over behind the plate.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Sanchez's ability to add another dependable bat in the lineup as well as effectively handle the pitching staff has brought an appreciated flexibility to the position.
"It's a rare quality when you have a young backup like we have where our veteran pitchers have a lot of confidence in him," Bochy said.
The switch-hitting Sanchez entered Sunday batting .284 in 74 plate appearances with 17 RBIs this season.
Posey and Sanchez have combined to handle a Giants starting pitching staff that had a 3.40 ERA on the season, good for third best in the National League.
"With the young catchers [we have] and the talent that these guys have and the things that they can do," Bochy said. "Most importantly, they have the ability to handle this staff, which is not an easy staff to handle."
Sanchez in good humor after painful at-bat
SAN FRANCISCO -- During his seventh-inning at-bat in Sunday's 2-0 win against the Cubs, catcher Hector Sanchez fouled back-to-back pitches off his left leg, taking substantial time after them to try to walk off the pain.
"He's got a great cutter," Sanchez said with a pain-filled smile about Cubs pitcher Travis Wood.
Sanchez got a standing ovation from the AT&T Park crowd after he stayed in the game and eventually flied out to center.
"If I [had] hit it in the gap, it would have been a single," Sanchez said.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Sanchez has a contusion below his knee, and Sanchez said that he didn't need to take X-rays and just iced his leg after the game.
"I just have two knees right now," Sanchez said, pointing to a swollen bump on his leg below the knee.
Penny scratched from first Triple-A outing
SAN FRANCISCO -- Brad Penny had his scheduled start Monday for the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies canceled because of shoulder soreness.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he would like to see Penny make at least three to four appearances in the Minors before joining the Giants, though he said the team will wait as long as they need to.
"This could take awhile," Bochy said. "We have to do what's right. We've got some time."
If and when Penny is called up, the longtime starter will join the Giants' bullpen. Penny had previously been at extended spring training in Arizona, and Bochy said Penny was having the usual Spring Training soreness for pitchers.
Casilla 'doing better' with bruised leg
SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Santiago Casilla would have his bruised knee examined by team doctors before Sunday's game against the Cubs, and that the closer's availability would be a game-time decision.
"He's doing better. He felt like he could throw yesterday, but you got to do what's right and do what's cautious here," Bochy said. "He's moving around pretty good."
Casilla injured his leg in the ninth inning of Friday's 4-3 win against the Cubs while fielding Darwin Barney's infield single.
Reliever Sergio Romo got the save in Saturday's 2-1 win. Bochy said Romo, who returned Saturday from his own knee injury, is completely recovered, and the manager chose to use Romo for the save in Sunday's 2-0 victory as well.
Hall of Famer Bench a fan of Posey, Bochy
SAN FRANCISCO -- Johnny Bench leaned against the batting cage Sunday morning looking as if he were one of the Giants. That was fitting, since his catching background helps him relate to two of their most prominent personalities: Buster Posey and Bruce Bochy.Bench called Posey "an amazing athlete" who's still learning the craft of catching.
"We sometimes overlook the fact that he's had only a couple of years [in the Major Leagues] and you expect him to do it when he's thrust in that role. I was too," said Bench, who appeared at AT&T Park as the official spokesman for MLB's Play Sun Smart campaign to raise skin cancer awareaness.
In fact, Bench played 265 Minor League games spread over four seasons before the Cincinnati Reds summoned him to the Majors in 1967; the Giants summoned Posey to stay in 2010 after he appeared in 172 games in parts of three seasons."That's fine," Bench said of Posey's relatively scant Minor League seasoning. "That's what we want. You don't think about it; you just play every day. He seems to be handling that very well." Bench and Bochy talked intently by the batting cage.
"He's one of my favorite guys and one of my favorite managers," Bench said of Bochy. "He handles the team well and handles pitching well. We've always had great rapport and a great relationship."Bench said that working with the pitching staff enhances a catcher's ability to manage, thus explaining the frequency of catcher-to-manager transitions. "You learn to handle personalities, so it goes beyond the pitching staff," said Bench, a 1990 Hall of Fame inductee. "Pitchers have pretty distinct personalities, so that would cover most every player on the team. Understanding the personalities and the psyche of a club and its players is not something to be overlooked."
Posey joined the Giants' ongoing carousel of starts at first with his start Sunday, and Brandon Belt is penciled in to start there Monday. "I think we're going to make history here with four games with four different first basemen," Bochy said before Sunday's game, adding that he anticipates Belt will start getting more consistent at-bats.
Pablo Sandoval began his rehab assignment Saturday, going 1-for-4 with a broken-bat single for Class A San Jose. "He saw the ball pretty good. He did all right for his first game back," Bochy said.
Entering Sunday, the Giants had gone 11 games at home without a home run, the longest streak in AT&T Park history and third longest in San Francisco history. Giants batters had combined for six total home runs in 27 games at home, the lowest in the Majors, and had hit just one in the last 17 home games.