Giants' Curt Casali breaks through at the plate, keeps line moving

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Casali breaks through at the plate, keeps line moving for Giants originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO -- Curt Casali has everything you could want in a good backup catcher. He is as prepared as anyone on the roster, has a strong rapport with the entire pitching staff, calls a good game behind the plate and fits in perfectly in the clubhouse.

But the Giants did not sign Casali two years ago because they just wanted to keep the pitchers happy when Buster Posey got a day off. At times in Tampa Bay, and in two of his three years in Cincinnati, Casali was above league-average on a per-at-bat basis, but the Giants have yet to really see that version.

After a 9-2 win over the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night, Casali said he felt "helpless" at the plate last season. He made light of his lack of slugging, particularly to the opposite field.

"I think I had a triple last year but that was an accident," he said.

Last year's lack of success at the plate could be viewed as the result of offseason wrist surgery, but Casali came into camp this year healthy and in tremendous shape. The results still weren't there -- until Tuesday night.

Casali had three of the Giants' 12 hits, driving in a pair of runs and raising his average 61 points. He also had a walk while seeing 20 pitches in four plate appearances at the bottom of the lineup.

"It felt really good," he said. "You know, it hasn't been the best start to the year offensively for me but I feel lately I've been having better at-bats. It's nice to barrel up a couple of balls the other way -- I don't think I did that once last year. The body feels good, the wrist is healthy. Hopefully, there's more to come."

If there is, in fact, more to come, Casali could find himself swinging some of the playing time behind the plate in his favor. Joey Bart has been good defensively but has gotten off to a rough start at the plate, and Casali now has three starts in the last six games. He said that has helped him find a rhythm.

The contributions on Tuesday were particularly important because they kept the line moving, which is how this Giants lineup is built. With a universal DH, manager Gabe Kapler has used his catchers in the No. 9 spot most nights, and it's a big deal when they can turn the lineup over and get an RBI situation to a leadoff hitter like LaMonte Wade Jr. or No. 2 hitter Brandon Belt.

"This is not to take anything away from anybody, obviously, but you can see how valuable it is to have very competitive at-bats at the bottom of the lineup to turn the lineup over," Kapler said. "This is something that Joey is capable of. It's something that Curt is capable of.

"In Cincinnati, we saw quite a bit of this (from Casali). We saw it from time to time last year and certainly the best version of Curt was a good offensive player in Tampa. That's why we identified him as a good partner for Buster and why we thought he would be a successful partner for Joey Bart this season."

Casali has ended up in both games in this series. With the Giants leading 5-2 in the sixth inning on Monday night, Kapler sent Joc Pederson up to hit for Bart with the bases loaded. A day later, Kapler said he was hoping to extend the lead and allow some key pitchers in the bullpen -- most notably closer Camilo Doval -- to catch a breather. Pederson ended up hitting a sac fly while batting for Bart, who has 32 strikeouts through 57 at-bats.

"There's not more than meets the eye here," Kapler said of Bart. "I don't want to complicate it: He's swinging and missing a lot."

RELATED: What we learned as Giants beat Rockies, win fourth straight

The Giants need both of their catchers to have quality at-bats at the bottom of the lineup. Casali has had plenty of career at-bats with a pitcher behind him, but when he's in the lineup now, the job is to get it to the top of the lineup.

"With the DH, I can just kind of get back to what I normally would do and try to drive the baseball and put together a competitive at-bat," he said. "It's a lot different. I would say I like it a lot more."