San Francisco Giants

Giants rest Posey (back) day after wild-card clinch

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants’ post-clinch-day lineup against the San Diego Padres tonight does not include Buster Posey, who came out of Thursday night’s game early with some back tightness.

Manager Bruce Bochy said that both taking Posey out of Thursday’s game and resting him tonight were cautionary moves. Posey underwent an MRI just in case, but it came back clean, Bochy said.

"With where we’re at, at this point, we’re better off giving him a day," Bochy said.

The Giants aren’t just playing out the string. They began today a game behind Pittsburgh and still have a shot at hosting next Wednesday’s wild-card game, depending on how they, the Pirates and the Cardinals finish the season.

If the Giants play the Pirates in the wild-card game and finish with a worse or identical record than Pittsburgh, the Pirates will host the game by virtue of winning the head-to-head season series. If those teams play Wednesday and the Giants finish the regular season with the better record, the game will be at AT&T Park.

The Pirates could also still overtake the St. Louis Cardinals in the N.L. Central, or finish tied with the Cardinals and force a one-game playoff to decide the divison.

If the Giants play the Cardinals in the wild-card game and St. Louis finishes with a better record, they will travel to St. Louis for the game. If they finished with identical records, the Giants would host the game by virtue of winning the head-to-head season series.

So there’s still plenty to be decided. For that reason, Bochy declined today to discuss the Giants’ plans for their wild-card roster. That in itself presents some interesting decisions, as it’s a 25-man roster that only applies to the one wild-card game (the winner submits a new roster for the N.L. Division Series).

That means there’s no need to carry five starting pitchers, opening some spots for extra relievers or position players. Bochy said the Giants have started to discuss their options, and that they could be different depending on whether they play St. Louis or Pittsburgh.

The Posey-less lineup tonight features Brandon Belt playing first base and batting fourth. Belt has had just 20 at-bats and four hits in five starts since coming off the disabled list on Sept. 15, but Bochy said Belt’s at-bats have given him some peace of mind about Belt being the Giants’ definite first baseman going into the playoffs.

"The swings he’s had, he’s seeing the ball well," Bochy said. "More importantly, his timing’s a little better … He’s going to get some more at-bats, and he’s only going to get better as far as his timing."

The full Giants lineup tonight against Padres right-hander Ian Kennedy:

CF Blanco

2B Panik

3B Sandoval

1B Belt

RF Pence

LF Ishikawa

C Susac

SS Crawford

P Vogelsong

And the Padres’ lineup against Giants right-hander Ryan Vogelsong:

3B Spangenberg

CF Venable

2B Gyorko

1B Grandal

LF Smith

C Rivera

SS Amarista

RF Liriano

P Kennedy

* Ishikawa is back in left field after looking pretty smooth there Thursday night. "He was tracking the ball well," Bochy said. "He looked like he saw it well off the bat, and I was very pleased. I hate to say ‘surprised,’ but he did make it look a little easier than what I thought he would."

* Bochy also joked about Tim Lincecum, who picked up his 100th career win last night by throwing two pitches in a relief outing: "He’s going to have to make up a story about how he got his 100th win." In seriousness, though, Bochy said he believes that Lincecum "should be encouraged, as we are, because he’s been throwing the ball better."

* Vogelsong makes his final start of the regular season going for his ninth win, and could benefit from the Giants supporting him a little. The right-hander hasn’t received a single run of support in his last three starts.

* Before tonight’s game, the Giants will announce the 2014 recipient of the annual Willie Mac Award, which is given to the team’s most inspirational player as voted on by Giants players, coaches, training staff and fans. Hunter Pence won the award last year.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee