Posey is finding his second-half legs


Posey is finding his second-half legs

DENVER It is so easy to forget the most important factabout Buster Posey.

Not only is he coming back from a horrific ankle injury. Notonly does he play the most grueling position on the field. And not only is hethe Giants brilliant cleanup hitter.

Hes also playing in his first full major league season.

Sure, 2010 was grueling right up to Nov. 1 and Game 5 of theWorld Series. Its not like his labors in the minor leagues didnt count inApril and May of that season before the Giants called him up on the way to aRookie of the Year campaign for the ages.

But a full grind in the big leagues? A full 600-plus plateappearances against the best pitching in the land? (And the Rockies.)

He hasnt done it yet.

There was every logical reason to believe that Posey would wear down in the second half.

So in that light, consider what he has done in recent days:

--After hitting a two-run home run as part of an 11-6victory Saturday night at Coors Field, Posey has hit safely in sevenconsecutive games, has a .438 average over that span and has homered in threeconsecutive games for the first time in his career. (And he's the first Giants catcher to homer in three straight since Brian Johnson in May, 1998.)

--He has 25 RBIs since the All-Star break, the most of anyNL player.

--Hes now seventh in the NL with a .325 average and ninthwith a .920 OPS. Hes also eighth with 68 RBIs, and hes knocked in those runsin only 396 total plate appearances. Every hitter above him on the RBI list hasover 400 TPAs.

--Hes crushed left-handers all season for a .413 average(43 for 104) with nine home runs. Thats even better than teammate MelkyCabreras .405 average against left-handers (45 for 121). No wonder the Giantsare 23-11 against southpaw starters.

--And yes, hes making a stealth run at the NL MVP award.

Hes a great player, Bochy said. It seems like hes oneof the best young players in the game. It's fun to watch his focus at the plate hes so relaxed and theres never any panic with him.

At a time when it would be completely realistic to expecthim to be slowing down, especially after he started the All-Star Game, Posey iscatching fire.

It would be simplistic to say that regular rest is the reasonPosey has sturdy legs under him at the plate. You have to credit his work ethicand the Giants training staff as well.

But Manager Bruce Bochys prudence certainly has contributedto the situation.

Well, weve talked about that, Bochy said. Its not easyto rest him when we have, but its paid large dividends especially here inthese so-called dog days. Thats what the plan was. Its enabled him to havefresh legs. Tomorrow will be a tough call. Hell want to be out there, but wehave to do whats right.

After meeting with Posey, the decision was made: As long ashe wakes up feeling fine, hell start at first base Sunday afternoon. His bat is simply too hotto take out of the lineup, and the Giants want to get greedy as they go for asweep.

They'll have many more days ahead in this NL West when greed becomes need.

I think Bochy has done a great job, said Posey, who hasstarted 16 games at first base, three at designated hitter and rested for 14others. I really appreciate his communication. Thats something that everyplayer appreciates.

Has it been difficult for Posey to sit out, as he did onThursday when the Giants lost to finish a miserable 3-7 homestand?

You try to keep it in perspective and that theres twomonths left in the season, Posey said. Its important to recover. Sometimesits tough and I wish I was in there. But if you ask (head trainer Dave)Groeschner, hed be pleased with the amount of at-bats I have so far.

Posey is on pace for 599 plate appearances. Hes also onpace to start 136 games, 112 of them behind the plate. His ankle still barks at him, but its recoveringquicker. Long games like Saturday night's slog dont nag at him the way they once did.

All in all, Im happy with how its recovered, he said. Itsgotten better and better as the years gone on.

Poseys patient, measured approach has been a metronome foran offense that hasnt always thrown out good at-bats on a day-to-day basis. Hesbeen a steadying influence. It's an influence they didn't have down the stretch last year.

It's a reason to believe the Giants, for all their warts, might be able to see this thing through.

Giants move Crawford from bereavement list to 10-day DL

Giants move Crawford from bereavement list to 10-day DL

Brandon Crawford, who was already on the bereavement list, has been placed on the 10-day DL by the Giants on Saturday.

Crawford has already served three of the 10 days due to his stint on the bereavement list. The Giants' shortstop is dealing with a right groin strain.

In 21 games this season, Crawford is hitting .263/.284/.434 with two home runs this season. He won his second Gold Glove last season. 

Rookie Christian Arroyo is taking his place at shortstop on Saturday. 

'The Kid' Arroyo continues wildly impressive first week with Giants

'The Kid' Arroyo continues wildly impressive first week with Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — In a quiet moment in the dugout Friday, manager Bruce Bochy tried to figure out a nickname for his new budding star. During a week where Christian Arroyo has made the game look so easy, this has turned out to be the most difficult part. 

Bochy briefly settled on “Yo” before that was scuttled because the team’s video coordinator is Yo Miyamoto. Joe Panik said some players have tried C.A. or YoYo, but admitted that neither is all that good. The team’s Twitter account spent a few days trying to make Boss Baby a thing, but Arroyo wasn’t thrilled with that one and the experiment appears to be over. In a back room of the clubhouse, there’s a printout showing Arroyo and Buzz from “Home Alone,” but that comparison is much better made with Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman. 

Perhaps the answer is as simple as the path Arroyo’s bat takes to a fastball. As he watched Arroyo field grounders during batting practice, Dick Tidrow was asked about the 21-year-old. Tidrow, the team’s senior VP of player personnel, has seen and worked with Arroyo since he was drafted. 

“We always just called him The Kid,” Tidrow said. “He would turn around when I called him Kid.”

The Kid is growing up quickly. Arroyo’s second homer of the week was the game-winner Friday, an eighth-inning blast that put a lead in Mark Melancon’s hands. The new closer made sure the new third baseman’s homer didn’t go to waste, clinching a 4-3 win that got the Giants out of the National League West’s cellar. 

The homer might have surprised Arroyo as much as anyone. He came here with a reputation as a mature and talented hitter, but power is not his calling card. 

“I’m not trying to hit a homer there,” he said. “Get the head out, see a pitch over the plate, barrel something, just keep the line moving. I got a good pitch, elevated it, and fortunately it went out.”

Arroyo already speaks like a hitting coach, but he is not afraid to admit that there are things he doesn’t know. It’s easy to get film on opposing starters, but there’s little a rookie can do to prepare for late-inning pitching changes. Arroyo consulted Buster Posey and Conor Gillaspie before facing Ryan Buchter, who has been in the division for two years. Gillaspie told him Buchter’s fastball has some late life and gets on a hitter. 

“I wanted to see it and the first pitch was a little low so I got a good read on them,” Arroyo said. 

The second one was right at the belt and Arroyo pulled it down the line for his second big league homer. He had just three last year in Double-A, but the Giants felt the 36 doubles showed that power was on the way. 

“He’s got pop,” Bochy said. “He’s not a guy trying to hit homers. He tries to put a good swing on it. But he drives balls and you saw it tonight. We see him more as a gap guy, but he’ll get more power as he gets older. We’re not asking him to hit homers, trust me, but it’s good to see him letting it go.”

The homer secured a win on a night when a lot went right. Jeff Samardzija was sharp, paying for one pitch to Ryan Schimpf that left the park but otherwise pitching seven strong. Panik and Brandon Belt ignited the offense early and Michael Morse came through with a game-tying sacrifice fly in the fifth. Derek Law and Mark Melancon closed it out, with Melancon getting help from Panik, who made a spectacular tumbling catch on a flare to shallow right-center. It was a big first out given that Melancon was pitching for the third straight day. 

“It was going to be in no man’s land,” Panik said. “You give it everything you’ve got. Fortunately the ball stayed in the glove.”

When it was over, the youngest Giant was in for another round of interviews to cap a hectic week. On Monday he made his debut and on Tuesday he picked up his first hit. Wednesday brought the first homer and Thursday was the first multi-hit game. What will the weekend include? Maybe a real nickname? 

For now, the Giants are fine with leaning on The Kid, because many of them didn’t even know how young the star of the week was until he was a couple of days into his big league career.

“I was thinking he was 23 or 24,” Samardzija said. “This has been really impressive.”