In every way, Buster Posey is most valuable to Giants

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In every way, Buster Posey is most valuable to Giants

SAN FRANCISCO How valuable is Buster Posey?

When he was injured and on crutches last year, Giantsmanager Bruce Bochy personally asked him to join in team meetings, and take thefloor. Even when his cleanup-hitting catcher couldnt walk, Bochy knew thatPosey could make his teammates better.

He wanted to stay involved with the club, and we wanted himto stay involved, Bochy said. Hes just a calming influence on everybody.

And a winning influence. Bochy knows it, his Giantsteammates know it, and voting members of the Baseball Writers Association ofAmerica mustve gotten wise to it when they bestowed 27 of 32 first-place voteson Posey to make him a landslide winner of the NL Most Valuable Player award onThursday.
RELATED: Buster Posey honored with NL MVP award

Just four years ago, Posey won the Johnny Bench Award as thenations top collegiate catcher. Now hes the first backstop since Bench in 1972to receive the NLs most prestigious honor.

Posey, Bench and Thurman Munson are the only catchers inhistory to win an MVP Award, a Rookie of the Year award and a World Seriesring. Posey, Willie Mays and Willie McCovey are the only Giants to accomplishthat trio of feats.

All of which makes Poseys level-headed noggin spin thetiniest bit.

To hear my name mentioned with those guys doesnt even seemreal, the 25-year-old said. Ive always been such a big fan of the game and have suchhuge respect for what hose guys accomplished. To be mentioned alongside themmeans a great deal to me.
RATTO: Posey takes the fun out of NL MVP race

Posey was speaking on a conference call from his boyhoodhome in Leesburg, Ga. Earlier in the day, he attended a fundraiser for theTransitional Learning Center, where his mother, Traci, teaches students whohave not been successful in a regular school setting due to behavior oracademic difficulties. The school serves children in Lee County who were referredby their former schools, tribunals or through the court system.

The schoolsexpectations, according to its Web site, are these three words: think, learn, consider.

Sounds like an apt summary for Poseys approach to the game,right?

He is acing all the exams. Despite playing just one full season and parts of two others, he has accomplished two World Series titles, caught a perfect game, won a SilverSlugger and a Hank Aaron Award, claimed Comeback Player of the Year honors andwon a Rookie of the Year trophy.

And now, the MVP.

He accepted it on live television from what looked like across between a chemistry lab and a polling place, and while wearing a plaidbutton-down shirt and holding onto one of his 15-month-old twins. He had his family, friends and others behind him.

He never thought of ditching the fundraiser for a more polished setting.

When I found out theres a conflict, I figured there was away we could make it work one way or another, he said. It turned out great,having more family and friends around for the announcement.

It made for a perfect backdrop. Posey, the Deans Liststudent at Florida State who treats his major league career with the sameearnest, studious drive, became the youngest NL MVP since Ryne Sandberg in1984.

Hes also the first NL MVP wholly developed by the Giantssince Willie McCovey in 1959.

When we drafted him we knew we were getting a talentedplayer, we knew what a good hitter he was, and we knew he was converting tocatcher, Bochy said. I didnt know he would become the caliber of catcherthat he is today quite so fast. We knew he was a good makeup guy, but hisprofessionalism, his handling of the staff, its amazing how good he is.

We knew we were getting a good player, I dont think anyoneknew how great he would become.

And no, Bochy did not pencil in Posey to lead the majorleagues with a .336 average, post an on-base percentage over .400 or drive in104 runs. Not after Posey couldnt put weight on his left leg for four monthslast year. Not after the heat-seeking hit at home plate on May 25, 2011, thatsnapped his leg and ruined his left ankle to the point where it required twosurgeries to repair the damage.

But team orthopedist Dr. Ken Akizuki restored the ligaments,head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner and his staff partnered with Posey todevelop an intensive rehab program and a spring full of trepidation passed without any setbacks.

Posey wasnt remiss in thanking Groeschnerand the medical staff while accepting news of the award.

Its an accomplishment that is shared with the whole Giantsorganization, and it starts at the top with great ownership and a front officewho is putting these guys on the field, Posey said. Its a great place tocome and play ball every day Weve seen the past couple years how passionateour fans are, so I couldnt be more honored to have my name among the previouswinners.

Would the Giants have three-peated if they had Posey healthy down the stretch last year? It's impossible to say. But Bochy agreed that itsreasonable to believe that they wouldve at least made it into the playoffs.

I certainly think so, Bochy said. Hes the MVP. Hesgetting his due recognition as far as being one of the elite players ever inthe game, and hes in a class with some of the greatest players in the Giantsorganization. I knew he would win and its richly deserved.

It just amazes me what he accomplished coming off thatdevastating injury. It shows you not only how talented he is but how tough heis.

Ballots were due before the playoffs began, so the Giants' six elimination victories on their way to a World Series sweep over the Detroit Tigers wasn't a factor in voting. Still, Posey was named on all 32 ballots while receiving 27first-place votes, four seconds and one third. Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun,who finished a distant second, also was named on all 32 ballots, never lowerthan fourth, and received three first-place votes. Cardinals catcher YadierMolina received the other two first-place votes and finished fourth. ThePirates Andrew McCutchen, who finished third, was the only other player namedby all 32 voters, who each submitted a 10-deep ballot.

Braun told theMilwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he supported Posey winning.

"I think Buster Posey deserved to win," Braun said. "What he was able to accomplish this year as a catcher for a team that eventually went on to win the World Series was incredible. I thought he was the best player; I though he deserved to be the MVP. He certainly is deserving of the award."

The Giants became the fourth team in major league history,and the first since the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates, to have a player win theregular-season MVP (Posey), All-Star Game MVP (Melky Cabrera) and World SeriesMVP (Pablo Sandoval) in the same season.

One of those MVPs abruptly left the scene on Aug. 15, when Cabrera wassuspended for testing positive for exogenous testosterone. But Posey only got better from there, and more valuable.

One year after he couldnt walk, Posey carried his team.

I do know I definitely have a deeper appreciation for beingable to play baseball, Posey said. Ive seen it can be taken away quick. Ihope I can continue to embrace the game and enjoy it because that was my mindsetcoming into the year: just enjoy each minute that youre out there.

Ex-Giants pitcher doesn't make Mariners rotation, optioned to Triple-A

Ex-Giants pitcher doesn't make Mariners rotation, optioned to Triple-A

Chris Heston's bid to make the Mariners' Opening Day rotation came up short.

The former Giants pitcher was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma on Sunday morning, Seattle announced.

Traded by San Francisco to Seattle in December, Heston struggled in his first spring with the Mariners. The 28-year-old allowed 14 hits and nine earned runs in 11.2 innings over five appearances.

Heston, who was a major part of the Giants rotation in 2015, pitched in 38 games over three seasons in San Francisco. He compiled a 4.16 ERA and struck out 148 batters in 188 innings.

The highlight of Heston's time with the Giants came on June 9, 2015 when he no-hit the the Mets in New York. He struck out 11 and walked none, but hit three batters.

In addtion to Heston, the Mariners also re-assigned former Giants reliever Jean Machi and former A's pitcher Cody Martin.

 

Giants spring training Day 41: Hwang wins award, hits game-winner

Giants spring training Day 41: Hwang wins award, hits game-winner

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jae-Gyun Hwang’s day started with an ovation from teammates who had selected Hwang as the Barney Nugent Award winner. It ended in style, too. 

Hwang’s walk-off single in the ninth gave the Giants an 8-7 win and raised his spring average to .308. Barring an injury or sudden change, Hwang will not make the team out of camp, but he’ll travel to San Francisco for the Bay Bridge Series next week and the Giants expect him back at AT&T Park soon.

“He can keep the award now,” Bochy joked after Hwang’s walk-off. “Good for him. Players love him, and the way he’s come out every day and the effort he puts in. He’s been inspiring with how hard he has gotten after it every day.”

The Barney Nugent Award is given to the player in his first big league camp “whose performance and dedication in Spring Training best exemplifies the San Francisco Giants spirit.” It is meaningful in large part because the voters are teammates, trainers and coaches. Hwang was called to the middle of the clubhouse by trainer Dave Groeschner on Saturday morning to accept the award. 

“With this being my first time coming to spring training to play baseball, I wanted to work hard and show that I belong here,” Hwang said through interpreter Mark Kim. “I think my teammates have noticed how hard I’ve worked for the team.”

The rest of the Giants have also noticed how easy Hwang has made the transition look. He said that, outside of learning a new strike zone, the adjustment hasn’t been a difficult one. He has four homers this spring, but doesn’t necessarily view that as a shining positive. Hwang said he wants to show more of an all-around game, especially on defense, and a stint in Triple-A Sacramento should provide that opportunity. 

If the rosters play out as expected, Hwang should see most of the time at third base in Triple-A. He can also play first, and he’s eager to show that he’s viable in left field. 

“I want to show I’m a versatile player,” he said. 

GAME RECAP: Chris Stratton was having a good spring, but he got knocked around by the Padres early … Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford both hit deep homers in their second game back from the WBC … Mark Melancon still has not allowed a run this spring … Hunter Pence's March slump got a bit deeper with an 0-for-3 ... Bryan Reynolds, last year’s top pick, entered as a pinch-runner and flew home from first on a Gorkys Hernandez double off the wall. 

BULLPEN BATTLES: In the front office’s perfect world, Josh Osich would be the one to take over for Will Smith, giving the team a hard-throwing lefty capable of neutralizing lefties and righties. It’s been an up-and-down spring for Osich, but he was filthy Saturday, striking out a pair in his lone inning. 

George Kontos looked even better in his inning, striking out the side. Kontos has allowed just five hits in 10 innings this spring, with 15 strikeouts. He seems forever stuck in that sixth-seventh range, but given his splits have been just about even over the years, maybe it’s time the Giants see what he can do in a more high-profile role. 

Cory Gearrin followed the previous two with a perfect eighth. Neil Ramirez struck out one and allowed one hit in the ninth. In 9 1/3 innings this spring, Ramirez has struck out 16 and allowed just five hits and two runs. He has a real shot to take someone’s job in the bullpen next week. 

ICYMI: The big news from this morning: Michael Morse will stick with the team and try to rehab/play his way back to the big leagues. And from the early afternoon, Johnny Cueto had a ton of fun with a 19-year-old he faced in a minor league game. 

NOTABLE: Bochy said that all of the players left in camp are slated to head home on the team flight Tuesday, but some guys have opt-outs on March 30, so moves are coming. This would seem a great sign for Aaron Hill, who is due a $100,000 retention bonus on Tuesday. Hill has slumped late in camp, but he’s still in position to make the team. Also noteworthy: Tyler Beede is scheduled to start Saturday’s game in Oakland. The Giants surely want to knock some MLB-stadium-nerves off before Beede heads down to Triple-A to wait for a call-up.