SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After 10 days of watching him take batting practice and do catching drills, the Giants fully expect Buster Posey to be in the lineup on March 28 in San Diego. When he digs into the box, you'll see a different look from Posey, now in his 11th big league season.
Posey is one of a dozen Giants wearing a batting helmet with a flap this spring. Last year, the Giants had just one player on their active roster -- backup catcher Aramis Garcia -- with a flap protecting his jaw. Posey said he plans to use the new helmet during the 2019 season.
"I thought about changing last year but I didn't want to do it during the season," he said. "It's just about getting more protection.
Not surprisingly, the catchers appear to be leading the way. Garcia started wearing a helmet flap after suffering a facial fracture in 2016 while playing for the San Jose Giants. René Rivera started wearing the bigger helmet last year, not because of concussion issues -- Posey and Garcia both have had concussions behind the plate -- but because of what he was seeing from pitchers.
"Everyone is throwing harder every year, and a lot of these guys are throwing up in the zone now," he said, mimicking a fastball that moves quickly towards a batter's head. "It's extra protection at the plate."
The catchers aren't the only ones with the new look. Pablo Sandoval had a flap on his helmet during live batting practice sessions earlier this week, along with Cameron Maybin, who wore one last year with the Marlins and Mariners. Others are expected to follow.
The change for homegrown Giants has a lot to do with a change by Rawlings. The equipment company has a new helmet that is made to withstand a 105 mph fastball, an increase from the old helmet that withstood 100 mph. The r-flap has been redesigned and is not as bulky.
Brad Grems, the clubhouse coordinator, said Rawlings engineers will be in the clubhouse Friday to show players their new helmets. Rawlings now has flaps that can be screwed onto the helmet in three different positions, allowing for more flexibility and comfort. Garcia said the old flap, while necessary for him, would often press against his face.
According to Grems, the new helmet will be a better fit for players' heads. By 2020, Rawlings plans to roll out the new, better-fitting helmet in every clubhouse. By then, you could see a lot more players protecting their jaws with a helmet flap.