Big test looms for Posey; status unclear for spring opener

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Big test looms for Posey; status unclear for spring opener

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Buster Posey isnt certain when hison-again, off-again schedule will ramp up into everyday baseball work. But heknows that one major test looms for his reconstructed left ankle.He still hasnt run the bases all-out.Baserunning is a point of emphasis this spring for theGiants as they hope to take advantage of their athleticism. Most of theposition players were on the field working on getting jumps a full 90 minutes beforeTuesdays workout was due to start.But Posey wasnt among them. Although he has run the basesas part of his rehab work, he hasnt tried the quick turns and cuts that everyhitter must make when they line a double to the gap.

Yeah, that will be important, Posey told me. Just because of the pounding youre putting on it. Werehappy with how everything is feeling but youre right. That will be a big test.For now, Posey continues to catch bullpens and participatefully in workouts every other day. He was back in shinguards on Tuesday,receiving Barry Zito as the left-hander faced hitters in live batting practice. Then Posey took his swings against Guillermo Mota and Brian Burres, and hit a deep fly ball to the warning track.Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he continues to operateday-to-day with Posey, but the baserunning test is one his celebrated catcher will have to passbefore he could be cleared to start Saturdays Cactus League opener againstArizona.The Giants strongly prefer to have Posey behind the plate on Saturday, knowing the lift his presence would give the club. His absence, which would be viewed as a setback by others, could have the opposite effect. But they will not let emotion sway the decision if they decide Posey needs more time.
Bochy also remained non-committal on whether Tim Lincecumwould start on Saturday, saying he and pitching coach Dave Righetti might tweakthe schedule.

Crawford returns to Giants after WBC lives up to high expectations

Crawford returns to Giants after WBC lives up to high expectations

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Stuck in a strikeout-filled slump late in the World Baseball Classic, Nolan Arenado grabbed one of Brandon Crawford’s bats before a seventh-inning at-bat. Arenado, the Colorado Rockies superstar, singled the next two times up. 

“I told him, ‘You can keep it, you just can’t use it against us,’” Crawford said Friday upon returning to camp. 

Arenado won’t need it against a team he seemingly hits .750 against. Crawford doesn’t need a lucky charm, either. He went 10-for-26 during the tournament, driving in six runs, including two on a big single in the championship game. Crawford was starting to lock in before he left camp the first week of March, and he said an early WBC game against White Sox lefty Jose Quintana helped him find his groove. 

While Buster Posey found himself pleasantly surprised by the experience, Crawford went into the WBC with high expectations. They were met, and not just because he came home with a medal. Crawford enjoyed his time alongside Arenado, and he noted that it was fun to watch guys like Marcus Stroman from his position at short. He found that Jonathan Lucroy and Danny Duffy were different personalities than he expected, and Christian Yelich opened eyes with his work at the plate over eight games. He was thrilled to be at shortstop when Adam Jones made a stunning over-the-wall catch at Petco Park.

“That was one of the best catches I’ve seen -- no offense, Gregor Blanco,” he said. “That was definitely up there with it. The timing and the crowd being there with him. Blanco’s catch was pretty good, too. (Jones’ catch) was one of the top two outfield plays I’ve seen, I guess.”

Crawford had his whole family with him throughout the tournament, from Florida to San Diego to Dodger Stadium. He had previously represented the United States as an amateur, but his team was heavily favored in that tournament. Against teams like the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Japan, Team USA often felt like the underdog. 

In the end, Crawford, Posey and Mark Melancon found themselves celebrating a title that they hope will be the first of two this season. Crawford said that as much as he enjoyed the experience, it doesn’t quite compare to getting to a World Series. 

“It’s a lot different,” he said. “They’re as big of games as you can get in March, but it is still March. This lasted three weeks. The World Series, you win after ups and downs with these guys for seven months. With the grind of a long season, it’s satisfying to win.”

On one of the team’s flights, Lucroy told Crawford that the WBC was basically an All-Star Game combined with a playoff series. He found that to be an appropriate comparison, and as he has in postseasons, Crawford found a way to keep it light. When he walked into the trainer’s room on Friday, Crawford saw Melancon, who pitched just two-thirds of an inning after joining Crawford and Posey.

“I asked him if he’s tired,” Crawford said. 

Giants release right-hander David Hernandez

Giants release right-hander David Hernandez

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There were three veterans in big league camp with $100,000 retention bonuses due on March 28. Two of them have now been released. 

Right-hander David Hernandez was granted his release a day after the same situation played out with infielder Gordon Beckham. Like Beckham, Hernandez was told he would not make the opening day roster. He requested an early release so he could pursue opportunities elsewhere. Infielder Aaron Hill is the third player with a retention bonus, and he is a near-lock to make the team at this point. 

Hernandez, 31, was in camp in hopes of breaking into the bullpen mix. He allowed six runs in six appearances, all coming in back-to-back outings. The Giants are just about set from the right side, and Neil Ramirez appears to be the favorite to break through if a newcomer makes the bullpen. 

If Hernandez does not find a big league job elsewhere, he could return to the organization. He lives in the Sacramento area, where the Giants have their Triple-A squad.