Bochy to face tough task of determining Posey's playing time

Bochy to face tough task of determining Posey's playing time
February 20, 2012, 1:03 am
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SCOTTSDALE, Az. -- The hook of the day is that Bruce Bochy has told Buster Posey not to block home plate. The sidebar is that he is going to help train Posey how to do it anyway.I mean, you never know, right, the manager said in his office while his catcher was holding his first State Of The Squat address in the dugout at Scottsdale Stadium. Id like him to have all those fundamentals down by the time we leave here, because you cant always avoid those situations.This is one of the many dichotomies the team faces with Posey as he transitions from star in the making to invalid to star in the remaking. The Giants, and specifically Bochy, are charged with helping restore Posey while learning just how much rope to give him in that restoration, and how much to hold fast.Posey, you see, wants to play yesterday, to see if he is his old pre-May 25 self. Bochy does, too, but he acknowledges he has never really had a case like this in his career.

You have someone whos very important to the club, obviously, and hes very intelligent about the way he goes about his job and the way he handled his rehab, but hes going through something hes never been through before, Bochy said. You want to make sure that hes not going to try and hurry his way back, that hes not going to jeopardize that by trying to be a warrior.That said, Bochys job on that score is easy so far. It will get more difficult.Right now, were all taking our lead from the medical people and the training staff, he said. Theyre in charge of how much he should play and rest, and monitoring how hes doing, and all that. Right now, theres no pressure on me.But thats going to change once hes been given full clearance. Thats when Im going to be the guy who has to make those decisions about when to give him a day, or when to push him. Thats when its on me.Bochy said he doesnt anticipate a problem keeping a governor on Posey, or convincing him that a day off here or there is a good thing. But Posey said Sunday he wants to play in the first exhibition game March 3, and Bochy is being cagier about it.Were going to see where were at, he said. He and I have talked about this, and we agreed that yeah, he wants to play right away, but we dont have to make that decision today.Bochy having been a catcher has a level of simpatico with Posey that many managers wouldnt necessarily have, but that rule isnt universal. Indeed, some managers who are ex-catchers, like the Angels Mike Scioscia, would almost certainly want Posey blocking the plate every chance he got because that is how Scioscia made his reputation as a player.But Bochys experience is like Poseys in that he hurt his knee early in his minor league career, and wound up missing a much greater amount of time because of the relatively primitive state of rehabilitation knowledge.Id play nine innings, and I think that I was good, but then Id be sore for two or three days, he said. I had no strength in my leg, and it took a long time to get that back. Buster doesnt have that problem.No, Poseys problem is really restricted to returning to his former state as the Giants most important hitter and the catcher the pitching staff lines up to throw to meaning his days off will come with a concurrent groan from that day's starter.His secondary issue is in acknowledging that his return to catching is also the beginning of a slow, almost molecular-level move toward another position. He has already plotted out the outfield as not his cup of meat, saying, Im too slow for the outfield . . . well, (Pat) Burrell played out there.But for the moment, he is working with the knowledge that his comeback is in the hands of many people, most notably the manager who grappled with his absence last year in what might in many ways have been the worst year of his managerial life.Worst, in part, because Posey left a void that was never close to being filled. And now the plan is for this year to be better as long as Posey doesnt decide to take the enemy gun emplacement by himself, or that Bochy realizes that Posey in the lineup is always better than him not in the lineup, and can say Youre off today when Youre off today is the correct answer rather than the answer that satisfies.