Ratto: Giants douse firestorm, Sabean feels heat

June 4, 2011, 2:19 am
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SAN FRANCISCO -- A year ago, the battle cry was Torture. Friday, it was Self-Flagellation.

Either way, the Giants are about punishment, which brings us yet once again to The Injury That Will Not Quit, The Agonizing That Will Not Die.

General manager Brian Sabean, whose remarks to KNBR Thursday about Florida Marlin Scott Cousins caused a national firestorm of rebuke, recognized that he had jumped up and down on the third rail Friday and reached out both to Cousins, who bowled over and injured local icon Buster Posey, and Florida general manager Larry Beinfest, who were in Milwaukee to start a three-game series with the Brewers.

Sabean, who sat in his usual pregame spot about 10 rows behind the Giants dugout, said he didnt want to speak on the record. I just want to let this die down a little bit, he said. Look, I dont have a problem with the kid, I have a problem with the culture (of taking the catcher out when there is a perceived alternative).

He did, however, confirm that while he did not speak to Cousins (he left a message), he expected that the two would speak soon. He indicated he did speak with Beinfest, and the chat was amicable, and that they both intended to let bygones remain so, and let the incident and its backdraft die of its own accord.

Sabean also said that he spoke with Major League Baseballs new overseer of baseball relations, Joe Torre, but that the subject of discipline (fine, suspension, etc.) never came up.

But back in San Francisco, it was full damage control, with both manager Bruce Bochy and club vice president Larry Baer trying to, as they say in Congress, revise and extend Sabeans remarks.

After a club statement which read in part, Brian Sabeans comments yesterday were said out of frustration and out of true concern for Buster and were not meant to vilify Scott Cousins. Brian has (spoken with Beinfest) to clarify his comments and to assure him that there is no ill-will toward the player, both Bochy and Baer chipped in.

Look, theres nobody in sports who is more protective of his players than Brian, Bochy said in his developing role as club spokesman for all things Posey. Hes like a papa bear -- when something happens to one of your kids, your claws are going to come out. As we all know, Brian's very emotional. As well as I know him, sometimes he needs time to let his emotions settle down. He's not out to demonize any player. He's hurt for Buster and what's happened here. I certainly don't want the media or fans to demonize Brian, either. He is very concerned about Buster and the ballclub.

Baer was more measured and politically careful, but tried to restate Bochys postulate.

The (team) statement is really intended to be the organizational statement and Brian's statement. I talked to (Florida president) Dave Samson (and said) similar things to what Brian said to Beinfest, which is this was not meant to be a personal thing toward the player and certainly not the organizational point of view, and I apologized for the way it came out. It was not stated properly. I don't want to say what Brian meant to say but our focus is on Buster Posey and his state of mind, feeling better, out of pain, recovered. He (Sabean) would be the first to say that the way that it's been interpreted is not the way the organization feels.

Sabean, too, said he did not mean to vilify Cousins, but kept the remainder of his remarks off the record, preferring to let the issue cool at its own rate.

The Marlins, for their part, werent quite so prepared to do so. According to Tom DAngelo of the Palm Beach Post, several players were still upset with Sabean, and to a certain extent, at Posey as well.

Outfielder Logan Morrison said Sabean should be liable for his comments. For him to come out and say something like that is just showing no compassion for a human being. This goes above baseball, this is life and death.

Morrison and outfielder Chris Coghlan also expressed displeasure with Posey for not acknowledging Cousins' apology. Cousins wrote Posey a two-page letter and he has attempted to contact him by phone.

It's troubling that (Posey) couldn't at least have the decency to say, Hey I appreciate that you care, Coghlan said. I think it portrays anger to the fans. He doesn't know what Scott is going through, He doesn't know what people say to his family. He doesn't know how people treat him in San Francisco now.

I have animosity toward Sabean for the comments he made. I have animosity toward Posey, Morrison said.

Cousins himself issued a statement through his agent, Matt Sosnick. I hope and believe that Mr. Sabean's comments were made in the heat of the moment and are based more on his fondness for Buster Posey than on any animosity towards me, it read. This situation is still an open wound for many, including myself.

I think what the GM has done is malicious, Marlins catcher John Buck said. (Sabean) has maliciously started this back up again to maliciously bring stuff back onto (Cousins). I just hope the league looks at what the general manager has done and what he said.

Buck said the club has requested extra security when the Marlins play their interleague series at Oakland June 28-30. The Marlins don't play in San Francisco again this season, although Florida hosts the Giants Aug. 12-14.

Morrison finished off by saying, If he doesn't like the rules, get in a different game, Morrison said about Sabean. If it was me running, I would have tried to put him in the third row of the stands and not thought twice about it.

Sounds like this is way short of being over, no matter what the Giants might want.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.