EXTRAS: Posey's baserunning still a concern

EXTRAS: Posey's baserunning still a concern
March 6, 2012, 6:16 am
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he was encouraged after watching Buster Posey slide on a pad and push his ankle a little harder as he ran along the cut of the infield grass Monday.

But Bochy acknowledged that Posey still has some major mental hurdles to clear, and running the actual bases is one of them.

"I thought overall, he loosened up," Bochy said. "He was running better there. That's going to be a confidence factor. Once he does it and realizes, Hey, I'm OK,' he'll be fine."

Posey could start running the bases on Tuesday, Bochy said. He'll need to feel comfortable with that before he plays in an exhibition game -- something that could happen as early as Friday.

As for the sliding?

"It was easy," Bochy said.

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After gas-leak evacuations and swarms of bees the first two days of Cactus League play, Monday night's game went off without any strangeness. (Unless you count Travis Ishikawa hitting a home run against his former team.)

Bochy turned to hitting coach Hensley Meulens late in the game and wondered why that flock of bats hadn't arrived.

"We used them all up yesterday, huh?" Bochy said.

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The Giants like what they see in Gregor Blanco. The MVP of the Venezuelan winter league, Blanco was 1 for 2 with a walk and a pair of stolen bases Monday night. Bochy even tried to use his shiny new weapon to score on a squeeze play, but catcher Chris Stewart fouled off his bunt attempt.

It's hard to say any non-roster player could make the kind of impact that Andres Torres did in 2010. But there are some parallels. Blanco certainly will get a long look this spring, and Bochy plans to put him in motion.

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After Blanco, the second hottest hitter in Venezuela this winter was Hector Sanchez. he nearly won the league's batting title and said he's feeling especially good from the left side.

It showed Sunday, when he strode to the plate after the 41-minute bee-swarm delay.

"First pitch, whack!" Angel Pagan said. "I said, This guy must be locked in.'"

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Nerves, thy name is a 48-foot David Quinowski breaking ball.

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Speaking of nerves, I'm happy to report that I survived my dugout interview with Kruk and Kuip during Monday's game. Nobody was happier than me that it was a brisk, 1-2-3 inning.

It's strange. I've covered baseball for 15 years and that was my first time in a dugout during an actual game (or exhibition, in this case). It was pretty neat to be so close to first base when Aubrey Huff made a nice shorthand pickup and Matt Cain narrowly avoided colliding with the baserunner. It was a glimpse, for me, of how fast the game really gets.

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