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

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

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.

Giants spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

Giants spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Ty Blach is the young one in the race to be the fifth starter, but on Sunday he sounded like a veteran. Asked if he has gotten a hint one way or the other about his opening day role, Blach smiled.

“I’m just taking it day-by-day and trying to get better,” Blach said. “I’m enjoying the process and having fun.”

Smooth. 

Those days are adding up to a nice spring for Blach, the left-hander trying to unseat Matt Cain. While Bruce Bochy didn’t shed any additional light on the current lean, team officials hinted Sunday that this is not as open-and-shut as it seems. Matt Cain, who will start Tuesday, looked like a lock to be the fifth starter a week ago, but the Giants are considering all options because they have an off day during the first week and two more shortly thereafter. 

“We’ve had discussions every day,” Bochy said. “We’ve got some tough calls.”

The Giants are expected to announce their official rotation when they return home for the Bay Bridge Series. Whether he’s starting, long-relieving, or pitching in a completely new role, Blach has certainly done all he can to make sure he’s in the big leagues on April 2. He gave up two runs over six innings Sunday, walking one and striking out one while giving up seven hits. Blach has allowed 10 runs in 20 1/3 innings this spring, but four of those came when he was ambushed coming out of the bullpen one day.

“Wherever I’ll be, I know I’ll be in a good spot,” Blach said. “I’m just looking forward to getting the season rolling.

After pitching out of the bullpen most of the spring, Blach got his pitch count up to 85 on Sunday. 

“We’ve gotten him stretched out,” Bochy said. “That’s a solid, solid job. We’ve got guys stretched out where you want them. We’ve got some flexibility. We’ll see as we get close here which way we’ll go.”

POSITION BATTLES: The Giants will carry a backup for Denard Span, and for about a month it looked like Gorkys Hernandez would be that guy. But Hernandez has slumped so badly this spring that he went over the minor league facility Sunday to get a ton of extra at-bats, and Justin Ruggiano has emerged, reaching base in nine of his last 16 plate appearances. The plan a few days back was for Ruggiano to go to Sacramento and get 50 or so at-bats to see where he’s at, but this is another race that could change in the coming week. 

Cory Gearrin has done his part to hold off any charging relievers, throwing two sharp innings while going back-to-back for the first time this spring. 

FAMILIAR FACES: A rough day for a couple of longtime Giants. Ehire Adrianza and Gregor Blanco both have oblique injuries, hurting their odds of breaking with the Twins and Diamondbacks, respectively. Elsewhere, David Hernandez showed that he made a smart decision asking for his release. He was signed by the Braves. 

AROUND CAMP: Hunter Pence really does do all he can to make every single teammate feel welcome in the clubhouse. He spent some time with young right-hander Roberto Gomez on Sunday morning, learning a few Spanish phrases. When the players went out to warm up, Pence threw with Jae-Gyun Hwang. These are small gestures, but for the new guys, they matter. 

BARRY’S BACK: We all knew Barry Bonds would step into the cage at some point, and on a quiet Sunday morning, there he was. Bonds, 52, took about five or six easy hacks before crushing one out to deep right. He’s still got it. The other day, reporters asked Bonds if he could suit up in the WBC if asked. He said he can absolutely still hit, but he would need to DH and he would need a day or two off before games. Being a big league hitter is not easy, even if he always made it look that way.

 

Bonds dusts off swing, cracks home run during BP in Giants' camp

Bonds dusts off swing, cracks home run during BP in Giants' camp

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants knew Barry Bonds would step back into the box at some point. It happened Sunday, with Bonds taking a few cracks at BP pitches from Gary Davenport.

Bonds warmed up with a couple of lighter swings and then blasted a homer to deep right. That was enough, as the 52-year-old walked away with a big smile on his face. 

Bonds is in camp as a special instructor, and he still picks his spots to show off his legendary swing. When he was the Marlins' hitting coach last season, he beat slugger Giancarlo Stanton in an impromptu home run derby.