SAN FRANCISCO Melky Cabreras ineligibility to win the NLbatting title turned the crown into a sudden, two-player race betweenPittsburghs Andrew McCutchen and Buster Posey, Cabreras former teammate.
EXCLUSIVE: Melky Cabrera ruled ineligible to win batting crown
So what did Posey think about the deal that Cabrera struckwith Major League Baseball on Friday to disqualify him?
You know what, Im just focusing on these last 12 games,said Posey, skirting the issue. Weve got a chance to do some good things.Personal achievements are always nice, but being fortunate enough to win theWorld Series in 2010, I know how much fun that was to share it with the wholecity. I know thats why I play the game. Thats how I get satisfaction.
Posey leads in many ways, including the way he carefullyconsiders his words. It was no surprise when he was named the Willie Mac Awardwinner, recognizing him as the most inspirational Giant as selected by playersand coaches. He entered the day hitting .335, just behind McCutchen at .338.
McCutchen told Pirates reporters that he appreciated Cabreramanning up and saying he was wrong. I guess he thought that was the rightthing to do and I commend him for doing that."
Giants manager Bruce Bochy also commended Cabrera.
Good for Melky, Bochy said. Its a good thing. He didntwant something hed probably feel is tarnished, so I think that shows somethingabout his character.
Posey did not offer an opinion one way or the other; thecatcher might have offered the only comment necessary on Aug. 15, the day MajorLeague Baseball announced Cabreras 50-game ban for testing positive fortestosterone.
"Ultimately, it was just a baddecision, Posey said at the time.
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Posey could become the first NL catcher to win the awardsince 1942, when Oakland native Ernie Lombardi hit .330 for the Boston Braves.
Its really, really difficult (for a catcher to win abatting title, Bochy said. You get beat up and your hands take a beating. Ittakes a lot of focus catching the game. You cant drift mentally. So itsimpressive where he is.
Its even more impressive because Posey couldnt walk fornearly four months last season after he tore three ankle ligaments andfractured a bone in his leg in a May 25 collision at home plate with FloridaMarlins baserunner Scott Cousins.
Thats one reason the Willie Mac award was near unanimousfor Posey, Bochy said.
He inspires everybody with the way he plays and approachesthe game and the way he comes out every day and carries himself, Bochy said.Im proud of him.
Said Posey: Hopefully Im somebody guys can look at and sayI go about things the right way. Im ready to play. Hopefully Im a guy peoplecan look up to and bounce stuff off of. I try to be the best teammate I canbe.
The Giants certainly needed leadership after losing Cabrera,who was leading the majors in hits and runs on the day he was suspended.
As Posey told me earlier this month: Ivenever been on a team thats been through something like that. I didnt knowwhat to expect, to tell you the truth. So I think everybody should be happywith how they handled it. I mean, really, what choice did we have?
Posey responded by being more productive thanever in the cleanup spot. Since the All-Star break, hes hitting .392 with 13home runs, 20 doubles and 52 RBI in 60 games. He has a 1.125 OPS over thatspan.
And if Posey wins a batting title? Will it becheapened in any way because Cabrera finished with a .346 average?
No, not at all, Bochy said, making a sour face. Busterhas been here all year. Melky had to miss a lot of games. So I wouldnt look atit like that. I stay on the positive side. If he wins it, he earned it.