Hensley had a whole different view of Posey collision

686178.jpg

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 Notes: Marrero hopes to be back; Posey faces Romo

posey_dodgers.jpg
USATSI

Giants Notes: Marrero hopes to be back; Posey faces Romo

SAN FRANCISCO — About 45 minutes after the Giants announced that Chris Marrero had been designated for assignment, the left fielder walked up to the locker of one of the newcomers. Marrero patted Christian Arroyo on the back and shook his hand, congratulating him for his first call-up to the big leagues. 

“That’s my boy,” he said later. “I was really happy for him.”

The Arroyo promotion and the addition of Drew Stubbs signaled the end of Marrero’s April run in the lineup. He was cut and Aaron Hill was put on the disabled list, clearing two roster spots. Just as Arroyo forced his way up with three huge weeks in Triple-A, Marrero forced his way onto the opening day roster with a monster spring that included eight homers. He had just five hits in 38 at-bats before Monday’s moves.

“The team is struggling and we’ve got to make some moves,” Marrero said. “I believe in myself and I’ll go down and get back to how I felt in spring training. This is what I’ve worked for my whole life. I lost the feel that I had in the spring. Things were a little rushed. I came in and worked hard every day to try and find it. I’m going to keep working. I haven’t lost confidence in myself.”

Marrero was put in a bit of a tough spot. He played just about every day in Scottsdale because he was trying to win a job, and when he finally did make it, some Giants coaches felt he was a bit worn down. The team’s brutal start to the season put a glaring spotlight on left field, and this move became obvious over time.

Marrero said he likes it here, and that if he isn’t claimed, he will go to Triple-A Sacramento and try to find that spring swing and get back up here. Count Bruce Bochy among those hoping it goes down that way. 

“We thought a lot of him and still do,” Bochy said. “He’s a good hitter.”

--- Arroyo had a 4.4 GPA in high school, so the Giants knew he was smart. He’s savvy, too. There’s nothing like picking up the longest-tenured player on the team, literally. After snagging a ricochet in the fourth inning last night, Arroyo kept running and lifted Cain off the grass. They then chest-bumped. 

“That just kind of happened,” Arroyo said. “He hit it, I looked at Cain going down and saw the ball, went running and got it, instincts took over. I made a throw and got the guy. It was a fun play. In that moment, I was just pumped up. It’s one of those plays you get excited over.”

Arroyo said he heard Cain yelling and he thought he was hurt, so that’s why he ran over. Cain did have an X-ray on the foot that got hit but it came back negative. 

“Christian did a great job handling himself,” Cain said. “He picked me up big-time.”

The best part of the play came hours after it was made. As Cain talked to reporters, Brandon Crawford — who was in position to scoop the grounder in the fourth — was standing at his locker, a few feet away.

“Let it go through next time,” he said softly.

--- Denard Span was out on the field Monday afternoon, but he’ll miss another two to four days with that right shoulder injury. This will truly be a day-to-day situation. If at any point the Giants feel they need coverage, Span can be put on the 10-day DL. 

--- Hill apparently felt discomfort after playing long toss on the road trip. He can swing a bat but he was going to be kept from throwing for three to four days, so he was put on the DL.

--- This spring, Posey was asked about facing Sergio Romo. Here was his long tendencies-filled answer. Posey faced Romo in the eighth and flied out. 

"It was a little weird, I'm not going to lie," he said. "I caught him for so long. It's definitely interesting being in the batter's box instead of being the plate."

Was there a nod or "hey what's up" look between the two?

"I've caught him long enough to know you don't look at him," Posey said, smiling. 

--- If you missed it, the standing ovation for Romo was a very, very cool moment. Also, here's my story on Madison Bumgarner, who spoke for the first time since his injury. And here's the first story on Arroyo, with a fun anecdote about his mom. She'll be in the stands Tuesday. And finally, my game story from last night. 

On night Giants turn to youth, Matt Cain turns back the clock

On night Giants turn to youth, Matt Cain turns back the clock

SAN FRANCISCO — In the second inning Tuesday, as Christian Arroyo strapped on his gear and grabbed his bat, Buster Posey looked over at Matt Cain. 

“Goodness,” he said. “He looks really young.”

There was a time when that was said about Cain, now 32, and Posey, now 30. They broke in as fresh-faced kids, too, but these days they’re the grizzled vets, anchors of a clubhouse that got some fresh blood on Monday. Arroyo brought the energy to AT&T Park and Cain and Posey did the rest. 

The starter, in the midst of a surprising resurgence, threw six dominant innings against the visiting Dodgers. Posey threw one runner out at second to end the eighth and back-picked Justin Turner at second with two down in the ninth, clinching a 2-1 win that felt like a must-have in the clubhouse. 

“I mean, we needed it,” Posey said. “I don’t think you can underscore it. We definitely needed it.”

The front office sensed that after a sweep at Coors Field. After weeks of saying the Giants had to be patient with Arroyo, Bobby Evans pulled the trigger Monday morning. Drew Stubbs was also added to temporarily take over in center. The message was clear: A sense of urgency was needed throughout the organization, and the players responded with perhaps their cleanest game of the year. 

Cain did the heavy lifting, allowing just two hits and a walk before his right hamstring bit. He was pulled while warming up in the seventh, but he’s optimistic. Cain missed two weeks last year with the same injury, but he said it’s not as bad this time around. 

“Last year it was something that was definitely more on my mind when I did it,” he said. “I pushed too hard. I thought we were being a lot smarter today.”

The bullpen backed Cain, with Steven Okert, George Kontos, Derek Law (who allowed a run but shut down further damage) and Mark Melancon carrying it home. Melancon ran into some trouble in the ninth when Turner alertly took second on a spiked curveball. With Adrian Gonzalez up, the Dodgers were a single away from tying it up. Turner strayed too far off the bag and Posey gunned him down.

“It was just instinct,” he said. “He was anticipating a ball being put in play and took that one or two extra stutter steps. 

Melancon emphatically yelled on the mound. Cain watched the final out from the trainer’s room. The win was his first over the Dodgers in four seasons, and while on the mound, Cain lowered his ERA to a staff-best 2.42.

“He did a great job locating his fastball,” Posey said. “He threw his curveball for strikes, expanded the zone with his fastball, mixed some changeups in. He did a nice job.”

The approach looks sustainable, and the Giants need it. Madison Bumgarner had another MRI on Monday and while the Giants don’t have a firm timetable yet, manager Bruce Bochy acknowledged that it will “be a while.” 

In the meantime, the Giants will try to find a mix that works. Hunter Pence was moved up to leadoff Monday and he drove in a needed insurance run. The infield trio of Brandon Crawford, Arroyo and Joe Panik combined for the first run, with Crawford doubling, Arroyo moving him over, and Panik skying a ball deep enough for a sacrifice fly. 

Bochy praised Arroyo for his approach in that moment, and the rookie said he was focused hard on getting Crawford over. It was the kind of at-bat the Giants teach in the minors, and they hope more is on the way. The Triple-A squad is more talented than it’s been in years, and with big leaguers continuing to drop, the depth will be needed. 

As he got dressed Monday night, Arroyo rattled off facts from the night’s River Cats game and talked about how much he believes in the players there. He’s part of a wave that’s coming slowly, a group that includes Ty Blach, who faces a monumental task Tuesday. The young left-hander will go up against Clayton Kershaw as the Giants try to keep the momentum going.

“We’ve got our hands full tomorrow,” Bochy said. “We know it. I thought tonight was huge for us to stop things.”