Buster Posey

Spring Training officially starts today for the Giants

The photo above, taken by my wife this morning, proves even MUNI’s excited about the San Francisco Giants facing the Cincinnati Reds and Aroldis Chapman this afternoon.

They aren’t alone.

Spring Training’s been relatively news-free so far. Melky Cabrera hit homers from both sides of the plate in the same game, but it’s early. Gregor Blanco looks like Andres Torres reincarnated, but it’s early. Brian Wilson’s throwing live BP (as opposed to BP on tape delay), but it’s early.

(Wilson’s also a part owner of Lucky Strike, a new bowling alley/bar/restaurant near AT&T Park. Too bad it’s a bowling alley with a dress code, meaning these guys wouldn’t be allowed to roll.)

So far Spring Training’s been about feel-good stories and Sergio Romo interviews (same thing, really), but this afternoon marks the first Spring Training game that matters. Buster Posey’s batting cleanup and catching today, and Freddy Sanchez is batting second as the designated hitter.

But that’s not all…

— Madison Bumgarner is coming back! Okay, so we already knew that. And the Giants didn’t sign him to a multiyear extension, which would’ve been nice. Bumgarner has been the best Giants pitcher since August of 2011, striking out more than a batter an inning, a that trend hasn’t exactly stopped so far this spring (5.2 innings, 9 K). However, with all the kvetching over contracts like the ones the Giants handed Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand, paying about $575,000 to Bumgarner in 2012 represents the kind of lucky excellent scouting and drafting that somehow allows the Giants to stay within their budget and out of the cellar.

Bumgarner was the best part about watching this team as things slowly unraveled at the end of the 2011 season, and I don’t want to jinx him with any crazy predictions … but nobody else on the roster (besides maybe Pablo Sandoval) brings so much promise for the upcoming season along with so few reasons to doubt him.

— At least according to Andrew Baggarly, the chances of Matt Cain (the first pitcher Posey will catch this afternoon) sticking around long-term look surprisingly high.

With so many influential baseball writers tripping over themselves to provide make Cain’s case for him (it’s almost like Cain has 20 agents at this point), Giants fans have been worried that Cain won’t take a so-called “hometown discount” from a place that isn’t exactly Tennessee. If the Giants do reach an agreement with Cain, the team’s off-season will suddenly seem a lot more productive and fans will have nothing to complain about — okay, that’s probably a stretch.

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