Hensley had a whole different view of Posey collision

Hensley had a whole different view of Posey collision
February 29, 2012, 3:37 pm
Share This Post

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Everyone in a Giants uniform canappreciate the sight of Buster Posey standing on his two feet, catching fastballsin the bullpen and unleashing his sweet swing in the batting cage.Every visage of Posey in action acts like a cooling balm onthose rough, raw images from the 12th inning on May 25.Right-hander Clay Hensley was there that awful night, too. But hisvantage point was a bit different.He was in the visiting dugout at AT&T Park, wearing aFlorida Marlins uniform. He was one of the first people to interact with rookiebaserunner Scott Cousins after his heat-seeking hit at the plate resulted in acatastrophic left leg injury to Posey, the Giants ebullient catcher.Different vantage point. Same perspective.It means a lot to everyone here, I know, to see Busterswinging the bat and catching pens, said Hensley, standing at his locker in the Scottsdale Stadium clubhouse after signing a non-guaranteedcontract with the Giants late this offseason. Its refreshing to everybody.But as someone who was on the other side, I can tell you its refreshing to me,too.RELATED: Big test looms for Posey; status unclear for spring opener
Hensley faced Posey in the bottom of the eighth inning withthe Marlins clinging to a 3-2 lead. He retired the Giants cleanup hitter on aweak lineout. Then he struck out Cody Ross to protect the lead and complete hiscontribution for the day.Florida padded its lead in the top of the ninth, but theGiants thrilled the home crowd by scoring four to send the game to extrainnings. Aubrey Huffs two-run single tied it. Posey followed with a single offLeo Nunez (later discovered to be Juan Oviedo). But with the winning run inscoring position, Ross flied out to deep left field. For the season, Rossbatted .149 with two outs and runners in scoring position. This would prove tobe his most painful failure.The Giants dramatic comeback only assured them pain andmisery in extra innings.Cousins, a University of San Francisco alumnus, a die-hard Giants fan as a kid and the lastplayer on the Marlins roster, pinch-ran after catcher John Buck hit a leadoffsingle against Guillermo Mota in the 12th. A sacrifice and a singlemoved Cousins to third base. When Emilio Bonifacio lifted a fly ballto medium right field, Cousins went back to tag and then ran full speed, fully expecting strong-armed NateSchierholtzs throw to beat him to the plate.The throw short-hopped Posey, who fell to his knees as heturned to tag with an empty glove. Replays showed Cousins had access to a portion of theplate, but he ran inside the baseline and speared the catcher. The hit was rightshoulder on right shoulder. Posey was thrust backward and his left leg had noplace to go. He tore three ankle ligaments, fractured his fibula and writhed onthe dirt in agony.It was a collision that altered the orbit of two lives.Posey was done for the season. He'd require two surgeries and months of rehab before he could walk again. Cousins pain was about to begin, too.Awful, Hensley said. Youve got a player, Scott Cousins, who plays hard and hes a good guy and a good kid. He just wanted to make aplay to help win a game. Hes in his home town, trying to cut a groove forhimself with the ballclub. He personally felt he had no room (to slide). Nobodycan say one way or the other besides him.It was tough to watch. I know for his part of things,nobody felt worse than he did. You play the game hard, but you dont want tohurt anybody.The visiting clubhouse held no jubilation after Cousins runmade the difference in Floridas 7-6 victory. Never has a major league teamfell so silent after winning a 12-inning game on the road.It was quiet. Nobody was celebrating, Hensley said. I canguarantee you there wasnt any, Yeah, we got his ass! Nothing like that.Everybody was trying to figure out how bad it was. At the same time, Cousinswas pretty distraught wrecked, really by it as well.Youre playing to win every time you take the field, butbaseball is like one big family. You dont want anyone to get hurt.It didnt end there. The next day, Anibal Sanchez shut out ashell-shocked Giants lineup. The Marlins 1-0 victory gave them a three-gamesweep, and at 29-19, they held the third best record in the major leagues.They proceeded to lose 22 of their next 25 games.It was a perfect storm of things that went bad, saidHensley, who watched as manager Edwin Rodriguez resigned and dominating aceJosh Johnson went on the disabled list with more arm trouble. We lost J.J.,who was such a huge part of our team. It just all went downhill from there.Cousins carried an additional burden, Hensley said.(The collision) is something that affected him for a long time, Hensleysaid. Wed try. We'd say things. I remember I told him, Hey, all you can do is keepyour head up, keep working hard. Thats easy to say. I mean, this happened tohim in his home city. Now we get home (to Miami) and hes getting hate mail. It wasreally, really tough for him. He was definitely, really upset about the whole situation.The Giants and Marlins didnt throw beanballs at each other the dayafter the collision. But there is sure to be speculation and anxiety in the daysleading up to the first meeting between the clubs in 2012.Eerily enough, the Giants will be in South Florida forthe one-year anniversary of the collision. Theyll play the Marlins May 24-27.The Giants will face a whole new team with new uniforms, a new ballpark, a new closer (Heath Bell), new shortstop (Jose Reyes) and new manager (Ozzie Guillen). Theyre called the Miami Marlins now. Cousins isntguaranteed to be on the roster; hes fighting for a job with former Giant AaronRowand, a non-roster invitee.(Cousins actually gave his No.33 to Rowand and took No.6, calling itwas a nod to former Giants great J.T. Snow an odd coincidence, since Snowonce tried to take out a Florida catcher, Ivan Rodriguez, at the plate on thefinal play of the 2003 NL Division Series.)Hensley understands that there will be another wave of anger and resentmentfrom many Giants fans as May 25 approaches. As someone who has been on both sides, he isuniquely positioned and willing -- to broker a peace between the clubs.Well, sure I would, he said. But Id say, from what Ivegathered being around this team to this point, that shouldnt be necessary.This is a team that will go about its business as usual.If you rehash it, if you open up that wound, its going tobe tough for everybody to move on. I can tell you from being on that side,there was nothing malicious in that locker room. Its a play that happened andit was terrible. But it happened.