SAN DIEGO Buster Poseys voice remained raspy one dayafter taking a ball off his throat, but hes in the lineup to catch MadisonBumgarner Saturday night at Petco Park.
Why is Posey killing himself down the stretch when theGiants have clinched already?
Why am I killing myself? Posey said, smiling. I'm notdoing it on purpose.
There is no questioning Poseys toughness after he shook offa pregame stomach ailment, remained in the game following the scary ball offhis larynx, caught all nine innings and also hustled on two extra-base hits towiden his lead in the NL batting race.
But when it comes to plays at the plate, Posey isntbudging. Asked if he would position himself less conservatively in theplayoffs, even blocking the dish when necessary, the probable NL MVP said hewouldnt change what hes done in the regular season.
I dont think you change something youve been doing allyear, Posey told me. Id say no.
And I didnt Ive never sat in front of the plate. Ididnt do that before I got hurt. So it wouldnt be normal for me to startdoing that, blocking like that.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy is just fine with that, too.
We dont want to change anything about how we play the gamein the playoffs, Bochy told me. We want these guys to play the game hard andright, and Buster makes a great point. Hes got to do what is comfortable.
Even before his season-ending collision at the plate on May25 last season, Bochy had forbidden Posey from blocking the plate. It made nodifference that night against the Florida Marlins, when the throw from rightfield beat baserunner Scott Cousins to the plate and he delivered a targeted,shoulder-to-shoulder hit that bowled over Posey, fracturing his leg and rippingthree ankle ligaments.
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During the spring, Bochy and bullpen catcher Bill Hayesworked with Posey on positioning in fair territory and reaching back to makeswipe tags. Its something Posey did in the past, but he has been even moreconservative with his positioning this season. A handful of runs might havebeen prevented if Posey had set himself up nearer to the dish.
Its been an adjustment, and not so much on Busters partas much as for the rest of us, Bochy said. Sure, a couple times he said hegot distracted where he was and got out in front a little more. But we saw whatlife was like without him. Its risk vs. reward.
And you know, that play, you dont get a lot of em. Youcan practice it, but its still so hard to simulate a play like that.
They do happen, though and as J.T. Snow and PudgeRodriguez can attest, sometimes they happen with the outcome of a postseasonseries hanging in the balance. The Giants won 100 regular-season games in 2003only to get bounced in the first round when Rodriguez held onto the ball afterSnow plowed into him.
Backup catcher Hector Sanchez has saved more than a coupleof runs this season while blocking the plate, too.
None of this is to suggest that Posey is incapable ofplaying his position. In fact, just last week, he made a terrific pickup ofshortstop Brandon Crawfords relay throw and applied a deft tag.
The throw will take you from certain spots, Posey said. Themain thing is to stay light on your feet and try to be in the best position youcan.
Posey said other than his voice, he felt fine and saw noreason to sit out Saturdays game. Its his last opportunity to catch Bumgarnerbefore theyd work together in the postseason. (Game 2 remains the best guess.)
He said he was in discomfort for roughly three innings aftertaking the ball to the throat. He also showed that his sense of humor is inbetter shape than his voice.
Asked if he had any trouble breathing after the impact, hesmiled and said, I dont believe I wouldve stayed in if I couldnt breathe.
Xavier Nady is getting another start in left field against aleft-handed pitcher. Not only did he take some good swings Friday night anddemonstrate an improved hamstring while hitting his first triple since 2008,but he also made a nice catch on left field after going back aggressively onthe ball.
Happy birthday to Giants third base coach Tim Flannery. Idont know many 55-year-olds who can scamper down the line like he can.