Buster Posey honored with NL MVP Award

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Buster Posey honored with NL MVP Award

SAN FRANCISCO Buster Poseys trophy case already included a Silver Slugger, a Comeback Player of the Year honor, the prestigious Hank Aaron Award for offensive excellence and a claim check to collect his second World Series ring.To nobodys surprise, he added a centerpiece trophy on Thursday. Posey was named the National Leagues Most Valuable Player by the Baseball Writers Association of America, whose voters made him the clear and overwhelming selection.Posey received 27 of a possible 32 first-place votes for a landslide victory with 422 points. Ryan Braun finished in second place with 285 points and three first-place votes. Ryan Braun finished third with 245 points but did not receive any first-place votes. Yadier Molina received the final two first-place votes and finished in fourth place with 241 points.Posey became the first catcher to win the NL award since Johnny Bench in 1972, and just the second NL backstop since Roy Campanella took the award in 1951, 53 in 1955. Its elite company for Posey, who already made history during the regular season when he hit .336 to lead the majors becoming the first NL catcher to win a batting crown since Ernie Lombardi in 1942.Posey also led the NL with a .408 on-base percentage, hit 24 home runs and finished with 104 RBIs the first Giant to drive in 100 runs since Barry Bonds in 2004. Not coincidentally, Bonds won the last of his seven MVP awards that season the last Giant to do so before Posey.Posey joins Bonds, Jeff Kent, Kevin Mitchell, Willie McCovey, Willie Mays, Carl Hubbell and Larry Doyle as the only players to win a league MVP award in a Giants uniform. Posey is the first MVP to be drafted and developed by the organization since McCovey in 1959.Ballots were due before the playoffs, but voters recognized what Posey meant to the Giants as they persevered through the loss of closer Brian Wilson to elbow surgery and the Aug. 15 suspension of Melky Cabrera, who was leading the majors in hits and runs when his positive test for exogenous testosterone was made public.Posey only cranked up his production in the second half. He hit .385 with a .456 on-base percentage and .646 slugging percentage in 71 games after the All-Star break; he had 23 doubles, 14 homers and 60 RBIs after the break as well.This guy is an incredible talent, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said in the moments after his team won the World Series in Detroit. His makeup is off the chart.He's, to me, the MVP, no question. We know how he carried us all year with the bat. But I think as important as atbat is what he did behind the plate in postseason and helped getting this pitching on track.He's the one putting the fingers down and calling those games back there, and this pitching did an unbelievable job against such a tough lineup.He did all of this one year after targeted hit at home plate tore three ankle ligaments, fractured his fibula and left him unable to walk for four months while he recuperated from two surgeries. Bochy paced Posey through the season with occasional starts at first base, but he still ended up exceeded expectations for innings and games caught.He's special, Bochy said. For him to come back off that injury shows you not only how tough he is, but what a special talent this guy is.

Giants spring training Day 10: Bochy on board with new rules

Giants spring training Day 10: Bochy on board with new rules

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — During his season managing Barry Bonds, Bruce Bochy watched the slugger get intentionally walked 43 times. 

“There were (managers) who had the (signal) up before he even got to the batter’s box,” Bochy said Wednesday. 

That’s part of the reason Bochy is completely on board with a new rule stating that managers only have to signal for an intentional walk. The elimination of the four pitches has been approved by MLB and the MLBPA, with the caveat that a manager can change his mind in the middle of the plate appearance. 

“I’m fine with it,” Bochy said. “I know a few pitchers are happy because they kind of have a thing about throwing (those pitches), not on our team, but last year it happened to us and we didn’t go. I’m fine with it.”

It’s rare that an intentional ball would go to the backstop, but the Giants experienced it last year against the Yankees. Dellin Betances threw wide as he tried to put Brandon Crawford on and Angel Pagan didn’t react quickly enough to score from third. 

Bochy met with league officials last week to go over some of the new rules and ideas, and he said he wants MLB to keep pushing to cut the time of games. 

“We talk about it so much but we really haven’t done a lot,” Bochy said. “I’m all for (limiting mound visits). I’m all for it, I am. It’s gotten more and more popular in the game. It used to be the catcher, and now it’s the catcher and infielders, and they go to the mound and come back and then the pitching coach goes out there.”

EXHIBITION SCHEDULE: Bochy said Madison Bumgarner is currently slated to start Friday’s Cactus League opener, with Matt Cain also throwing an inning. Ty Blach will start Saturday, Matt Moore and Tyler Beede will pitch Sunday, and Jeff Samardzija will start Monday. It’s possible that 18 or 20 different pitchers will take the mound over the first two days since almost all of them will be scheduled for just three outs. With the exception of Will Smith, every projected Giant should see the field this weekend. Hunter Pence is the only guy who has been held back at all, but his intercostal issue has cleared up. Pence put several on the left-field berm during BP on Wednesday.

“Hunter wants to (play Friday). He's ready to go,” Bochy said. “I’ll make that call tomorrow once I talk to the staff, but Hunter assured me he’s a full go with no limitations, and he really wants to play.”

PROSPECT WATCH: Bochy took the van over to the minor league facility to watch some of the projected Triple-A players take part in live BP. Jae-gyun Hwang hit a homer off Jose Dominguez during his session. 

“He’s a guy that rotates (well) and he’s got good power,” Bochy said. “He can go the other way. He’s got some bat control. He’s got a nice swing.”

Over on the main field, Gorkys Hernandez hit an impressive homer to left-center. 

ICYMI: From this morning, Smith is being held out of workouts. Reporters spoke to him in the afternoon and he said there’s no concern. Also, here’s a podcast with Derek Law and Josh Osich. Subscribe on iTunes if you haven’t … there’s a very popular Giant coming soon.

QUOTABLE: Smith missed time last season because he tore a knee ligament while taking his shoe off, so this spring’s speed bump is somewhat easier to take. He had a message for the trainers: “I said I’m going to sit down every day this spring,” when I take my shoes off.

MLB players’ union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players’ union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK -- There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."