Hensley had a whole different view of Posey collision

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Hensley had a whole different view of Posey collision

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Everyone in a Giants uniform canappreciate the sight of Buster Posey standing on his two feet, catching fastballsin the bullpen and unleashing his sweet swing in the batting cage.Every visage of Posey in action acts like a cooling balm onthose rough, raw images from the 12th inning on May 25.Right-hander Clay Hensley was there that awful night, too. But hisvantage point was a bit different.He was in the visiting dugout at AT&T Park, wearing aFlorida Marlins uniform. He was one of the first people to interact with rookiebaserunner Scott Cousins after his heat-seeking hit at the plate resulted in acatastrophic left leg injury to Posey, the Giants ebullient catcher.Different vantage point. Same perspective.It means a lot to everyone here, I know, to see Busterswinging the bat and catching pens, said Hensley, standing at his locker in the Scottsdale Stadium clubhouse after signing a non-guaranteedcontract with the Giants late this offseason. Its refreshing to everybody.But as someone who was on the other side, I can tell you its refreshing to me,too.RELATED: Big test looms for Posey; status unclear for spring opener
Hensley faced Posey in the bottom of the eighth inning withthe Marlins clinging to a 3-2 lead. He retired the Giants cleanup hitter on aweak lineout. Then he struck out Cody Ross to protect the lead and complete hiscontribution for the day.Florida padded its lead in the top of the ninth, but theGiants thrilled the home crowd by scoring four to send the game to extrainnings. Aubrey Huffs two-run single tied it. Posey followed with a single offLeo Nunez (later discovered to be Juan Oviedo). But with the winning run inscoring position, Ross flied out to deep left field. For the season, Rossbatted .149 with two outs and runners in scoring position. This would prove tobe his most painful failure.The Giants dramatic comeback only assured them pain andmisery in extra innings.Cousins, a University of San Francisco alumnus, a die-hard Giants fan as a kid and the lastplayer on the Marlins roster, pinch-ran after catcher John Buck hit a leadoffsingle against Guillermo Mota in the 12th. A sacrifice and a singlemoved Cousins to third base. When Emilio Bonifacio lifted a fly ballto medium right field, Cousins went back to tag and then ran full speed, fully expecting strong-armed NateSchierholtzs throw to beat him to the plate.The throw short-hopped Posey, who fell to his knees as heturned to tag with an empty glove. Replays showed Cousins had access to a portion of theplate, but he ran inside the baseline and speared the catcher. The hit was rightshoulder on right shoulder. Posey was thrust backward and his left leg had noplace to go. He tore three ankle ligaments, fractured his fibula and writhed onthe dirt in agony.It was a collision that altered the orbit of two lives.Posey was done for the season. He'd require two surgeries and months of rehab before he could walk again. Cousins pain was about to begin, too.Awful, Hensley said. Youve got a player, Scott Cousins, who plays hard and hes a good guy and a good kid. He just wanted to make aplay to help win a game. Hes in his home town, trying to cut a groove forhimself with the ballclub. He personally felt he had no room (to slide). Nobodycan say one way or the other besides him.It was tough to watch. I know for his part of things,nobody felt worse than he did. You play the game hard, but you dont want tohurt anybody.The visiting clubhouse held no jubilation after Cousins runmade the difference in Floridas 7-6 victory. Never has a major league teamfell so silent after winning a 12-inning game on the road.It was quiet. Nobody was celebrating, Hensley said. I canguarantee you there wasnt any, Yeah, we got his ass! Nothing like that.Everybody was trying to figure out how bad it was. At the same time, Cousinswas pretty distraught wrecked, really by it as well.Youre playing to win every time you take the field, butbaseball is like one big family. You dont want anyone to get hurt.It didnt end there. The next day, Anibal Sanchez shut out ashell-shocked Giants lineup. The Marlins 1-0 victory gave them a three-gamesweep, and at 29-19, they held the third best record in the major leagues.They proceeded to lose 22 of their next 25 games.It was a perfect storm of things that went bad, saidHensley, who watched as manager Edwin Rodriguez resigned and dominating aceJosh Johnson went on the disabled list with more arm trouble. We lost J.J.,who was such a huge part of our team. It just all went downhill from there.Cousins carried an additional burden, Hensley said.(The collision) is something that affected him for a long time, Hensleysaid. Wed try. We'd say things. I remember I told him, Hey, all you can do is keepyour head up, keep working hard. Thats easy to say. I mean, this happened tohim in his home city. Now we get home (to Miami) and hes getting hate mail. It wasreally, really tough for him. He was definitely, really upset about the whole situation.The Giants and Marlins didnt throw beanballs at each other the dayafter the collision. But there is sure to be speculation and anxiety in the daysleading up to the first meeting between the clubs in 2012.Eerily enough, the Giants will be in South Florida forthe one-year anniversary of the collision. Theyll play the Marlins May 24-27.The Giants will face a whole new team with new uniforms, a new ballpark, a new closer (Heath Bell), new shortstop (Jose Reyes) and new manager (Ozzie Guillen). Theyre called the Miami Marlins now. Cousins isntguaranteed to be on the roster; hes fighting for a job with former Giant AaronRowand, a non-roster invitee.(Cousins actually gave his No.33 to Rowand and took No.6, calling itwas a nod to former Giants great J.T. Snow an odd coincidence, since Snowonce tried to take out a Florida catcher, Ivan Rodriguez, at the plate on thefinal play of the 2003 NL Division Series.)Hensley understands that there will be another wave of anger and resentmentfrom many Giants fans as May 25 approaches. As someone who has been on both sides, he isuniquely positioned and willing -- to broker a peace between the clubs.Well, sure I would, he said. But Id say, from what Ivegathered being around this team to this point, that shouldnt be necessary.This is a team that will go about its business as usual.If you rehash it, if you open up that wound, its going tobe tough for everybody to move on. I can tell you from being on that side,there was nothing malicious in that locker room. Its a play that happened andit was terrible. But it happened.

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.

 

Cueto toys with young prospect in Giants minor league game

Cueto toys with young prospect in Giants minor league game

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — There is no way to really ramp up the intensity when an All-Star pitcher makes an appearance in minor league camp, so Johnny Cueto instead found a way to have a bit more fun. 

While getting his work in against A-ball hitters, Cueto had a prolonged, smile-filled battle with 19-year-old Jasrado Chisholm, one of the Diamondbacks’ top prospects. The sequence between Cueto and the shortstop from the Bahamas: 

  • Cueto just missed with a two-strike inside fastball, so he went right back to the same spot, freezing Chisholm, who smiled and nodded at Cueto, who laughed back. 
  • The next time up, Chisholm took two vicious hacks, trying to crank a homer onto Hayden Road. He missed both breaking balls by about a foot. 
  •  Before the third pitch, Cueto yelled something at Chisholm and smiled. “I was telling him to keep his eye on the ball,” Cueto said. “Because every time he was swinging, he was taking his eye off the ball.”
  •  The advice worked. Chisholm hung in on the third pitch, lining a single to left-center. Cueto laughed and pointed his glove at the teenager. He promptly picked him off of first base. “He probably doesn’t know I have a quick move,” he said. “I was having fun with a kid who wanted to actually hit against me.”

Nobody has more fun than Cueto, even on a sun-baked minor league field. He capped his day by standing in for an at-bat of his own, and he stood and watched as a young Diamondback struck him out.

The work on the mound was just what was needed: 7 innings, 85 pitches, 10 strikeouts, 0 runs. Cueto, who missed the opening weeks of camp, is ready for the season.

“I feel strong,” he said. “I feel really good."