Bochy renews plate-blocking ban on Posey

Bochy renews plate-blocking ban on Posey
February 19, 2012, 11:46 pm
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Bruce Bochy has forbidden Buster Posey from blocking the plate. The Giants manager confirmed it on Sunday, and much will be made of that decision.But here is one more vital scrap of information: Posey was under the same order the night that Floridas Scott Cousins speared him like a tackling dummy.Bochy and other Giants officials had sat down Posey for that lets be smart about this conversation 10 months before the May 25 game in which he sustained three ripped ankle ligaments and a fractured bone in his leg.The Giants already knew the risk involved with putting their best offensive player in a chest protector. They saw what happened in August, 2010, when the Cleveland Indians lost promising rookie Carlos Santana to a torn knee ligament in a collision at the plate. Shortly after that, Bochy sat down Posey and told him that saving one run wasnt worth the risk.And besides, as Posey rehashed the Cousins play during his meeting with reporters on Sunday, I want to make it clear I wasn't blocking the plate to begin with.

That's the dicey part I guess, is figuring where you've got to be to somewhat avoid that, Posey continued. I have to be instinctual, that's the way I play the game. I try to play off instincts. Some of those instincts come off your preparation and that's why we're going to put in a lot of work this spring.But even the most thorough preparation cannot protect a catcher who is receiving the ball from one direction and absorbing a full-speed, 200-pound baserunner from the other. There is inherent risk everywhere on a baseball diamond, and no place is dicier than behind the plate.Perhaps the greater question isnt whether Posey should block the plate, but whether he should be back there at all.Candidly and surprisingly, Posey said he has asked himself the same question.I'm not going to lie, he said. There were some thoughts a couple of months after, well, maybe it wouldn't be bad to move. But then the more I thought about it, I realized how much I enjoy catching. As hard as I'm going to work and have worked and am going to continue to work to get back behind the plate, I want to catch for as long as I possibly can.Youd better believe the Giants will have some things to say about that, too.There is going to come a point when we will certainly discuss whether its the right thing to make a move, Bochy said. Right now, hes our catcher.The smart money is that Posey wont be a catcher for long beyond 2012. Bochy probably tipped his hand while lauding the stockpile of catchers in the system: A group that includes Tommy Joseph, Andrew Susac and Hector Sanchez.We have some good young catchers in camp the best Ive ever seen, Bochy said.Sanchez is the closest to the big leagues after a monster winter in Venezuela. Susac is highly regarded after being taken as a sophomore out of Oregon State (by way of Jesuit High in Sacramento) in the draft last year. Joseph has the highest ceiling, given the huge strides he made behind the plate in the Cal League last season (he led the circuit in caught-stealing percentage) and the fact his bat played in High A ball as a 20-year-old.As for the here and now, Bochy liked what he saw from Posey during Sundays workout.Blocking balls, theres no hesitation getting up, Bochy said. He looks like hes over it. Hes healed. Now, having said that, hes still got a long way to go, catching innings and seeing how hell react. But for now, hes doing great.If theres any question, its how much we can catch him.For that reason, the Giants are staying open-minded to carrying a third catcher. The current leaning is to carry two. (That decision would be easier if Pablo Sandoval could serve as a very occasional third catcher, but he made it very, very clear that he wont have that conversation with the coaching staff.)RELATED: Sandoval -- 'I don't want to catch'
Bochy said he was glad to see Posey using the two-piece mask instead of the hockey-style helmet he had used in previous years. Concussions are a big part of that added risk behind the plate ask Mike Matheny about that and Bochy always thought the two-piece mask absorbed and distributed force more effectively.According to the studies, theyre the same, Bochy said. But I always said the older mask protected you more.One other note: Posey said he is going to leave discussion of a rule change to the people who makes those decisions. He isnt going to lobby for an amendment to protect catchers.But Bochy isnt going to set down his megaphone on this subject.He got resistance last year from Joe Torre when he was MLBs chief of on-field operations. But Torre stepped down and the league hasnt named a replacement.If its Tony LaRussa, then Bochy should be able to gain more traction on a rule change. LaRussa was receptive to the idea when Bochy discussed it with him last year. Several other managers also feel the issue merits more discussion, Bochy said.Bochy said hed continue his grass-roots efforts to gain consensus with his fellow managers on this topic.

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