UPDATED: Posey handles first play at the plate with aplomb

712342.jpg

UPDATED: Posey handles first play at the plate with aplomb

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. There was a collective lump in thethroat and a catch of breath Friday night. Buster Posey was involved in a playat the plate.

For the first time since the May 25 collision that wreckedhis ankle and ruined the Giants season, Posey stood ready to receive a throwwith a runner bearing down on him.

He positioned himself a little further in front of theplate, caught a strong heave from center fielder Angel Pagan, turned and lungedas he applied a swipe tag to Mitch Moreland.

Moreland was safe. More importantly, so was Posey.

Predictably, the Giants cleanup-hitting catcher did notmake a big fuss over the play in the fifth inning Friday night. It might haverepresented a major emotional moment for a fan base, and perhaps some of his teammates,too. But not for him.

I was more thinking kind of about the work wed done thisspring and all the practice and stuff, Posey said. And I think I think itwas good.

Posey immediately called timeout and went to the mound -- notto settle down his own nerves, but to check on left-hander Madison Bumgarner,who had allowed three consecutive singles.

He was just giving me a breather, Bumgarner said. I wasmaking good pitches and he wanted to make sure I wasnt getting frustrated.

Bumgarner needed the moment to process what hed just seen,though. He saw the play unfolding and flashed back to May 25, when ScottCousins delivered his targeted, ankle-snapping, shoulder-on-shoulder hit.

Oh yeah, yeah, definitely, Bumgarner said. I was thinkingit the whole time. I didnt think itd be that close until I saw the throwcoming in. It was in the back of my mind, for sure.

Because Posey is setting up further in front of the plate, the Giants might give up a few runs on close plays at the plate. Bumgarner is fully aware of that -- and he's fully OK with it, too.

"One run's not worth him missing the whole year again," Bumgarner said.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy has said that Poseys instinctswould take over on plays at the plate. Posey said other than setting up a stepfurther into fair territory, he didnt change much about his technique.

But even last year, Id position myself in front of theplate, he said. So I dont think its that big of a change for me, to behonest with you.

I think its sometimes tough to visualize it because everythrow and every play is different. You might get a short hop or a long hop oryou might go to your left or right. But as much as possible, you try tosimulate in practice what youll get in a game.

Bochy approved of the way Posey handled the play, with one critique.

"We talked about it and the tag could've been a little lower," Bochy said. "But I thought he was in good position to make a swipe tag."

Bochy rolled his eyes a bit when asked about the significance of the play.

"It's baseball. You'll have plays at the plate," Bochy said. "He'll have more plays and he'll get more comfortable with each one. You move on. We'll continue to work on these plays at the plate. I'll say this: He spent a long time recovering. He knows there will be plays and there might be contact."

Posey wasnt sure if umpire Derryl Cousins made the rightcall until Bochy went back to check the replay. Posey said he tagged Moreland high, but he was hook-sliding so perhaps hegot his hand across the plate before the tag.

Still, Posey had no complete assurance that Moreland wouldhook-slide. If Posey had any hesitation, he didnt show it as he left his feetbriefly while lunging to apply the tag.

Moreland's view: "With two outs, I did everything I could to get in there. He gave me the plate. That's why I slid across the outer half. He gave me the plate. There wasn't going to be any collision."

Posey looked good and blocked several balls in the dirtwhile catching six innings. He is on the schedule to start at first base Friday the first time all spring that he will play defense on consecutive days. He saidhis ankle is ready to handle an increased workload, including catching nineinnings and going back-to-back days.

The Giants play day games after night games four times intheir first 10 contests of the season; theyll have 39 of those quick turngames in all this season.

Posey said he hopes to play in many of those.

Its hard to tell until you do it, he said. But from theway my ankles felt so far this spring, Im optimistic I will be able to.

What they're saying: 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class

What they're saying: 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class

The National Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez Wednesday. Here's what they and their peers are saying.

https://twitter.com/baseballhall/status/821855144681897988


Still on outside, Bonds, Clemens have become invaluable to Hall

Still on outside, Bonds, Clemens have become invaluable to Hall

The Baseball Hall of Fame becomes yesterday’s news Friday, as it always does. Three months of buildup, one day to announce the names, one day to castigate the voters for their willfully negligent slights, and then nine months of hibernation.

So much for the concept of “joining the immortals.”

But at least Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez never have to go through this annual pageant of nonsense again.

Barry Bonds does, though, and so does Roger Clemens, and to a lesser extent, so does Curt Schilling. They are the new litmus strips for the Hall, and they will more than replace Raines (voter ignorance division) and Bagwell (presumption of guilt with evidence division) for self-involved debate.

And in that adjusted role from doomed outsiders to serious candidates, Bonds and Clemens – and to a lesser extent again, Schilling – have become invaluable to the Hall, and their eventual election and induction will reduce the Hall’s ability to inflame passions outside the seamhead community.

On a day when Bagwell and Raines finally cleared the 75 percent threshold and Bonds and Clemens moved from 45 percent to 53.8 and 54.1 percent, respectively, the Hall of Fame Debating And Chowder Society saw the end times for its power as a multi-month debate-churner.

The blatherers are dead, long live the blatherers.

An entire mini-industry of Hall watchers has been spawned, in part by the now-feted Ryan Thibodaux and his exit polling but also by the debates about what the Hall should be and who should get to decide it. It has made days like Wednesday event viewing when it hadn’t been for years. For that, the Hall owes Bonds and Clemens a debt that the powers inside Major League Baseball wishes it didn’t have to pay. But the day they are inducted is the day that PEDs die as a debating point. The answer will have been provided, and there will be no more need for discussion.

Worse yet, the BBWAA’S new voter transparency rules may unfortunately impact our pal Thibodaux, whose seminal work in this understudied area of social science undermined ballot secrecy. In short, if everyone has to fess up, the desperate need to know early returns may dry up.

Oh, there will always be the day of post mortem-ization, as those who didn’t clear the threshold are subject to a few rounds of the popular parlor game, “Who Got Snubbed, And The Tedious And Half-Informed Reasons Why.”

For instance, the big debating point from today’s results will not be about Raines and Guerrero getting in, but what happened to the Bonds and Clemens votes. People have already postulated that a lot of the jump in their respective votes can be directly linked to Bud Selig’s election from the Veterans Committee. Voters who had previously ridden the Hall-as-temple argument suddenly lost their raison d’etre and realized that the PED problem was an industry matter rather than a greedy players’ matter.

In short, they saw Selig getting in as tacit approval that the PED issue was no longer a moral one in baseball but a cynical one, a way to blame labor for management’s culpability. That is an irony whose existence Selig will almost surely deny, but it’s there anyway, and it represents one more non-glacial change in a system that has been nearly immovable for most of its existence.

The next change, of course, may be removing the vote from the BBWAA and turning it over to a more malleable panel of “experts” who may not skew as young and values-neutral as the BBWAA of the future seems to be heading. That course may be hastened if/when Bonds and Clemens are elected, because halls of fame in their more traditional role have been more about rewarding friends and punishing enemies, and a large and shifting electorate makes that harder to accomplish.

The argument against such a course, though, is that the current system of three months of fevered public debate about the same old stuff works for the Hall’s sense of its importance. I mean, MLB Network and its fetish for shrill argument only has so much reach.

By Friday, though, all of this will revert to its typically inert state. Bonds, Clemens (ATALE Schilling), PEDs, morality, practicality, secrecy, old voter/young voter – all of it will fade back into insignificance.

And in a year or two or maybe three, Bonds and Clemens will wipe it all out by being included in the one club that we once knew would never tolerate their presence, and the Hall Of Fame’s Golden Age Of Shrieking Argument will end.

In a weird and largely unpleasant way, it will be missed.