The Maturation of Buster

February 18, 2010, 11:05 pm
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. When Buster Posey made his big-league debut with the Giants late last season, he looked every bit the wide-eyed rookie.Hes still a rookie, technically, but wide-eyed hes not. Hes not exactly baby-faced anymore, either. Young Buster did some serious growing up over the winter.Last fall he looked like hed won some sort of Hang with the Giants contest at a local high school. Fresh off a season that made him the Minor League Player of the Year, he roamed the Giants clubhouse and dugout trying not to look a little awed.On Thursday, the first day of actual structured workouts at Scottsdale Stadium, Posey walked not timidly but with a purpose, a confidence, an almost imperceptible swagger.Being named the Minor League Player of the Year will do that for a fella. Posey didnt just live up to expectations in 2009. He crushed them by crushing the ball the way everybody in the organization hoped he would.Oddly enough, though, Poseys success -- and, of course, Bengie Molinas unexpected return -- has created an nice little drama that will play out over the next six weeks in the desert.Bengie is the starting catcher, no question about it, and conventional wisdom suggests that Posey, long touted the Catcher of the Future by the Giants, needs to be behind the plate every day somewhere at this stage in his career. That means a ticket to Triple-A Fresno, right?Not so fast. This is a team, remember, that needs all the offense it can get. What happens if Posey is the best hitter on the team down here? You cant send the reigning Minor League Player of the Year back to the minors after he hits .420 at big-league camp, can you?Probably not, and thats why the Giants plan to bounce Posey around the infield a little bit this spring. He was a stud shortstop as a freshman in college before Florida State turned him into a catcher, so theres little doubt hell be able to transition back, and Travis Ishikawas toe injury surely means Posey will get some reps at first base.Asked about playing on the infield Thursday, Posey said hes down for whatever, but he also made it clear that he prefers catching above all else.For 2010, though, he might not have a choice. If his bat plays, as scouts like to say, at this level, the Giants need Buster to play -- somewhere, anywhere -- with them. --Mychael Urban
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