Papierski details unique link to 2012 WS team ahead of SF debut


SAN FRANCISCO -- When Michael Papierski walked into Oracle Park on Saturday morning, it was his first time at the ballpark. But the new Giants catcher is very familiar with one of the most thrilling moments in franchise history. 

Papierski works out in the offseason at Traction Sports, a facility in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. One of the gym's owners is former Giants second baseman Ryan Theriot, and when people walk in through the front doors, one of the first things they see is a photo of Theriot scoring the winning run in Game 4 of the 2012 World Series. 

"He's like a father figure for me," Papierski said of Theriot. 

On Saturday, Theriot will be a proud father figure.

A week after being acquired from the Houston Astros for Mauricio Dubón, Papierski is in the Giants' lineup, batting ninth and catching. The Giants needed the help because Curt Casali went on the 7-day concussion IL after taking a foul tip off the mask on Friday, and Joey Bart felt some minor back tightness when he was rushed into the loss to the San Diego Padres in the ninth inning. To clear a 40-man roster spot, the Giants DFA'd utility man Luke Williams. 

Papierski has a .356 on-base percentage in five minor league seasons, but he hasn't hit for much power and was struggling in Triple-A at the time of the trade. Manager Gabe Kapler said anything he gets offensively will be a bonus; the Giants acquired Papierski in large part because they trust his defense and game-calling, and feel confident in his ability to slide right in and catch someone like Carlos Rodón in a big-league game.

"Really good reports for quite some time," Kapler said of Papierski's defense. "He's a sound game-caller, a good relationship-builder. If we get some offensive production, that will be fantastic, but what we feel most confident in is his ability to block and frame and be a defensive addition for us today."

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Kapler was hopeful Casali would be back when his seven days on the IL are up, and Bart was playable Saturday and will be available off the bench. But they are curious to get a look at Papierski, who had a whirlwind week after the trade. 

Papierski played three games for the River Cats and made the drive down on Saturday for what will be his big league debut. It won't be his first experience with Rodón, though. The Astros carried Papierski on their taxi squad all October last year as catching depth, and he watched Rodón from the other side during a playoff series.

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