Bochy: Posey to play more first base in 2012

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Bochy: Posey to play more first base in 2012

DALLAS-- Giants manager Bruce Bochy spoke with reporters at baseball's WinterMeetings and provided some clarity on how he plans to use Buster Posey in 2012.Posey, working his way back from season-ending leg and ankle injuries sustainedlast May, will play some first base next season to allow him to rest more whilekeeping his bat in the lineup, Bochy said.Busteris our primary catcher, but if this is a way to give him a break occasionallythen it will work out well for him and whoevers playing first.

Posey hit.284 with 4 home runs in 45 games last season after winning the Rookie of theYear in 2010 with a .305 average, 18 home runs and 67 RBIs."Wed like to get himout there as much as we can without wearing him down," Bochy said. "And if putting him atfirst base a few games allows us to play him more, then this is why weredeciding to give him more playing time at first base.More notes from Bochy's media session:- Second baseman Freddy Sanchez threw today for the first time since undergoingshoulder surgery on Aug. 2.- Closer Brian Wilson has been building strength and will start throwing onJan. 1.- Aubrey Huff is aware of the possibility that he will need to play more leftfield next season and has been working out everyday to get back to where he wasbefore his disappointing 2011 season.He knowsthat left field is a place where he could be getting a lot of playing time.This would help our situation, having the flexibility that we could have withBuster going to first, Aubrey playing left, and with Brandon Belt we can mix and match the waywed like to.
- Nate Schierholtz is the front-runner to take the starting right field job."Its his job to lose but hes got to come in and do what he knows what we think hell do and what he believes he can do and thats stay healthy and go out and play well.
- Bochy is comfortable with Brandon Crawford being his everyday shortstop andwould not comment on rumors that the Giants are interested in Japaneseshortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima, who he called a "good player."
Bochy on Crawford:
Were comfortable. I thought Brandon did a nice job there. I really liked the way he carried himself even through some tough games offensively. He didnt let it affect him and hes a very good defender. Thats the plan right now to have him at short.

Bochy on Nakajima:

"Good tools, very good defender, he can handle the bat. His strength is what he can do at shortstop ... hes a guy who can provide some offense too.

- Hector Sanchez, who hit .258 in a brief call-up last season, has impressed Bochy and is a candidate to back up Posey at catcher, though Bochy said he'd like Sanchez to play everyday.

"This kid is really opening up eyes this past year," Bochy said. "Hes made as much improvement for a young player that Ive seen in a long time. His skills behind the plate, handling pitchers, of course the bat. Hes down there having a great year in Venezuela and I think he leads the league in hitting. And hes a young kid. Hes really making a lot of noise. And for a catcher to swing the bat the way he does as a switch hitter, thats a rare commodity. I look forward to his progress and I look forward to seeing him in the spring.

- Brian Sabean said that Pablo Sandoval would be comfortable catching on days Posey isn't behind the plate if needed.

"On the days Buster needs a day off period and wouldn't be a first baseman or catcher, Pablo could catch Zito starts to get more offense in the lineup and he's open to that. Now whether that happens I don't know but it's been discussed."

- The Giants have reached out to Tim Lincecum's camp regarding a new contract but there have been no substantial developments.

Otani to MLB after 2017 season? 'We discussed the possibility'

Otani to MLB after 2017 season? 'We discussed the possibility'

TOKYO -- Japanese pitcher Shohei Otani says he could move to the major leagues after the 2017 season.

The 22-year-old right-hander, who has also put up big numbers at the plate, signed a $2.37 million contract for next season with the Nippon Ham Fighters on Monday.

Otani will not become eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season and will need the Fighters' approval to negotiate with a major league club through the posting system before that time.

He says "we discussed the possibility of me going. ... The club will respect my wishes whenever I decide I want to go."

Otani went 10-4 as a pitcher and batted .322 with a career-high 22 home runs this season for the Fighters.

New rules in MLB's collective bargaining agreement make it more difficult for players like Otani to get paid big bucks right away. But there is a definite curiosity about his abilities, even from those who haven't seen him play much.

"I don't know which side you're worried about more: his ability to pitch or hit," former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "Hopefully he stays healthy because he's an addition whatever league he winds up with, whether he stays in Japan or comes to the U.S. he's certainly going to be an exciting player for people to look forward to watching."

Boston Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was reluctant to talk about Otani because he's under contract in Japan. But he's intrigued about Otani's ability to pitch and hit.

"We have reports on him," Dombrowski said. "Do I think a player could be a two-way player? Yeah, it could happen. It is very difficult? Yes. But I'm not saying that there's not a player out there that can't do that because some of them are rare, rare guys. Babe Ruth could do it. He was pretty good. So it can be done."

Report: Giants 'among teams that have asked' about lefty reliever Howell

Report: Giants 'among teams that have asked' about lefty reliever Howell

The Giants added a huge piece to their bullpen Monday by signing closer Mark Melancon to a four-year deal. While much of the bullpen is complete, San Francisco's front office is reportedly keeping an open mind with a familiar reliever. 

San Francisco has reportedly asked about lefty reliever J.P. Howell, according to ESPN's Buster Olney. Howell, who turns 34 in April, spent the last four seasons as a Giants rival with the Dodgers.

Last season coming out of the Dodgers' bullpen, Howell tossed 50.2 innings pitched and ended with a 1-1 record and 4.09 ERA. The year before, Howell posted a career-low 1.43 ERA. 

In just 13 appearances out of the bullpen -- 10.2 innings pitched -- Howell has struggled in his career at AT&T Park. The lefty has a 6.75 ERA in San Francisco, to go along with an 0-1 record. 

As a whole, the Giants' bullpen finished the 2016 regular season with a 25-24 record. The group's 3.65 ERA ranked ninth in the National League. 

Howell is seeking a one-year deal, according to Olney.