Bochy renews plate-blocking ban on Posey

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Bochy renews plate-blocking ban on Posey

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.

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

MESA, Ariz. — The Giants went 0-62 last season when trailing after eight innings. Chris Marrero wasn’t around for any of that, but it’s a stat that could help Marrero as he tries to lock up a bench spot. 

The first baseman/left fielder crushed a three-run shot in the ninth inning Tuesday, wiping out a two-run deficit against the Cubs. Marrero also has two walk-off homers this spring. 

“This kid, you see it when he goes up there. He’s got great focus,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s intensity and determination. From day one, you could see it in his at-bats. Late in the game, he seems very comfortable. He wants to go up there.”

Tuesday’s homer, which shot out to right-center, was the eighth of the spring for Marrero. That ties him with a guy named Bryce Harper for the MLB lead, and the vast majority of Marrero’s bombs were no-doubters. 

“It’s been a great spring for him,” Bochy said. “The last game here, it seems fitting that he would do something like that. He’s already done it a couple of times. This kid has done all he can. I love his swing and the work that he’s put in.”

With Michael Morse down, Marrero is the best remaining option as a power right-handed bat off the bench, a glaring need a year ago. Justin Ruggiano, another one in the mix, followed Marrero’s shot with one of his own. The homer was Ruggiano’s second of the spring. 

Ruggiano is a better fit defensively in the outfield, but Marrero has been solid at first and Bochy said he’s fine with what he’s seen in left field. “He’s still working on it,” Bochy said, noting that Marrero will play left field during the Bay Bridge Series. 

LEADING OFF: Denard Span saw a wild pitch bounce off the bricks behind home plate, and he never slowed down. Span sped around third in the second inning and slid in ahead of the throw. The notable part of the play wasn’t that a quirky bounce allowed Span to take 180 feet on a wild pitch. It was that his legs did. The 33-year-old has been a different guy in his second spring with the Giants. Last year, Span was coming off hip surgery. This spring, his old game has returned.

“I’ve just been able to do the things I’ve always been able to do,” Span said. “I have more control of my body. I’m stronger. I had a full offseason and a full spring training to get my legs up under me. The last couple of weeks, I’ve felt much better and more confident.”

A healthy and spry Span would be a big boost to a lineup that often looked flat in the second half last season Span showed off every aspect of his game Tuesday. He blasted a leadoff homer on Jake Arrieta’s second pitch, and during their second matchup, he put a perfect bunt down the third base line for a single. Span stole second easily before his race home. 

“He’s playing terrific baseball and he’s been a real inspiration, being our leadoff hitter,” Bochy said. “That’s what we needed — energy at the top of the order.”

TRAINER’S ROOM: Eduardo Nuñez (shoulder) is feeling much better, and Bochy said he’ll play third base during the games at AT&T Park before getting four or five innings at shortstop on Saturday. Joe Panik (drilled in the back on Monday) said he’s feeling fine. 

POSITION BATTLES: Here’s the latest on Matt Cain, and here’s an update on Aaron Hill and Jimmy Rollins. 

ICYMI: Big news today from NBC Bay Area. Matt Williams, Javier Lopez and Cody Ross have joined out pre- and post-game shows. You can find stories about those guys on our homepage here. Those shows will also now be an hour long on both ends of the game, adding an extra hour of Giants coverage to your day. Which is good. 

That’s all on the way during the regular season. If you missed any of our spring coverage, you can find a bunch of features here, and podcasts here (spring pods included Mike Morse, Matt Cain, Mac Williamson, Jimmy Rollins and others, with one more coming this week). And in case you’re new to our coverage, the Twitter account is here and the Facebook page is here. Next stop, San Francisco … 

 

Giants appear to have decided between Hill or Rollins for roster spot

Giants appear to have decided between Hill or Rollins for roster spot

MESA, Ariz. -- Aaron Hill didn't play in the final Cactus League game, but he didn't need to. By simply being on the flight to San Francisco on Tuesday, Hill got good news. 

The veteran infielder was due a $100,000 bonus on Tuesday, and while the Giants haven't formally announced their roster, you don't pay a man that much money to come play three exhibition games against the A's. Hill appears to have made this club as a second backup infielder, along with Conor Gillaspie. Another veteran, Jimmy Rollins, got the news that the Giants are headed in a different direction. 

Team officials spoke with Rollins this week about their future plans. He was not on the travel roster Tuesday and did not attend the game against the Cubs. 

"We're waiting to hear back from him," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He knows the scenario and the situation. We're waiting to hear back."

Rollins, 38, showed the Giants that he can still handle shortstop defensively, and he was a quick learner when he moved to second. But he hit just .119, falling behind Hill, Kelby Tomlinson and others in the mix for bench spots. It would seem unlikely that Rollins would want to get additional at-bats in Triple-A, but that feeling hadn't been fully conveyed to team officials Tuesday. There was a hope that Rollins, an East Bay native, might join the team for the Bay Bridge Series, which finishes Saturday in Oakland. Rollins grew up an A's fan.

Rollins and Hill were part of a crowded infield group at the start of camp. Gordon Beckham also had a retention bonus and he asked to be released when he was told he wouldn't make the opening day roster. David Hernandez, the third player due a bonus, also was released. He promptly signed with the Atlanta Braves.