Posey: 'There's still some work to do but I was very happy'

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Posey: 'There's still some work to do but I was very happy'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Buster Posey caught Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain in the bullpen area. He did some blocking drills. He practiced hopping out of his crouch to throw. Then he belted a few batting-practice cookies onto the grass beyond the left field fence.It was an absolutely normal morning for a catcher on the first workout day of the spring. None of it would be remarkable if not for one terrible collision the night of May 25, and the months of rehab that followed.No, there was no discernable change in Poseys actions or swing under the Arizona sky on Sunday. The difference will be more evident Monday, when Posey wont go through the same full routine. The Giants want him to rest his rebuilt leg and ankle.

How does Posey feel about the abundance of caution? Was there ever a time that he considered just quitting as a catcher for a safer place on the field? (Yes, actually.) Has he talked to Scott Cousins, the Florida Marlins rookie who ran him over? (Nope.) Could he beat Pat Burrell in a race? (Duh.)Posey answered that and more when he met with a large media contingent, including most of the national outlets that cover baseball.The State of Buster follows:Q: Are you keeping the two-piece mask?
A: I'm just going to play with it all spring, see how I like it. If I do I'll keep it. If not I know I'm comfortable with the hockey style.Q: You did everything in your workout today. How did it compare to what youve been doing on your own?
A: I'd say it's pretty comparable. Obviously it's a little bit different, the intensity's a little bit higher, there's a little bit of adrenaline being out here with the rest of the guys, it being the first day. I was really happy with the way everything felt.Q: Tim Lincecum says he can see that youre ready.
A: Yeah, I think sometime probably in January I kind of just got past a certain point where I felt ready. I was glad to have that feeling. I think it took my ankle getting to a certain point and feeling good to be ready to get back out and do this stuff.Q: Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy say they'll keep you in check with some things ... understandable?
A: Absolutely. The overall goal is to be ready opening day and then from there be back behind the plate as much as I can. I understand and I think we're all on the same page with it. I've got to stay as productive as possible, whether that's taking a blow here or there or playing first (base) every once in a while, whatever that may be. The goal I think is still to catch as many games as I can.Q: Is it hard to take tomorrow off from catching bullpens?
A: No, I don't think so because they've laid out a plan for me. Everything we've done so far has gone great. I trust (Dave Groeschner) and the training staff. I'm going to stick with what they give me. We have plenty of time still. There's no point in trying to do it all in the first two days.Q: What will you do tomorrow?
A: I don't think I'm catching pens tomorrow. I'll do everything else.Q: Could you sense what this meant to the team having you back?
A: I don't know. I tried to keep it as normal as possible and treat it like the first day of camp. Everybody's excited regardless. It was special for me because I've put in a lot of work to get back to this point and this is just another step. There's still some work to do but I was very happy with today.Q: How does the ankle feel day-in and day-out?
A: It feels good, progressively better and better, and really, it's a little sore when I wake up but other than that after a few steps it feels normal.Q: In January you reached a point ... what was that all about?
A: I don't know. I don't think it was that I got past a certain pain threshhold. I don't know, it's tough to explain. I kind of felt that hunger to want to be back out more so, not that I didn't feel it before but I really started getting excited. I told my wife it was a good feeling to have because that's what you're always looking for as a player, you want to have that passion to be out there.Q: Will you be able to program yourself not to make the one play that could hurt you again?
A: It's tough to answer that question. When you're playing a game you're doing everything you can to make certain plays and I think that to answer that it comes down to the preparation you put in now, early work and what not. I'm hopeful it's something like before, you're trying to get the guy out. It's that simple.Q: Bruce said he talked about that to you, was he straightforward in telling you not to block the plate?
A: Yeah, I think that's what we're going to do. But I want to make it clear I wasn't blocking the plate to begin with. That's the dicey part I guess is figuring where you've got to be to somewhat avoid that. I have to be instinctual, that's the way I play the game. I try to play off instincts. Some of those instincts come off your preparation and that's why we're going to put in a lot of work this spring.Q: Do you hope for rules changes to protect catchers?
A: You know, I don't know. I'm going to leave that to those people who make those decisions on the rules and we'll see. I don't know. Your guess is as good as mine.Q: You seemed to stay out of the hard feelings part of this in aftermath of the collision, whether it be Scott Cousins or what Brian Sabean had to say. Is that just your personality or was it needed distance?
A: I think some of both. I think you're right on. The biggest thing for me back then and now is looking forward and being positive and trying to get ready for another season. Just keeping that positive outlook.Q: Do you accept the fact Cousins is truly sorry this happened?
A: Do I accept it? Sure. I do.Q: Have you talked?
A: No.Q: No need?
A: I don't think so. I mean it's one of those things. Usually I just hear it from you guys (in the media), but I heard he called over the night it happened but I was probably getting X-rays and from then other than hearing you guys say he's tried to make contact, I don't know.Q: Is there something youve learned about yourself since that day?
A: I think it's just a greater appreciation for doing what I do, just enjoying this, being out here today catching a couple of pens and maybe some of the not-so-glamorous stuff of a catcher's job - enjoying that stuff a little bit more and just knowing that it can be gone quick and enjoying every bit of it.Q: Was there a moment or two today when you said, "This is really cool?
A: Not really. It's all of it. Just enjoying every bit of it.Q: Did you notice the fan reaction today after your first BP round?
A: Yeah. That was pretty cool. The fans are great. They've been great throughout the whole process.Q: You caught Lincecum twice last week; how did he look to you today?
A: Good. It was coming out nice and easy. He just threw fastball-changeup but everything looked free and easy.Q: How does your swing feel now?
A: It feels good. I've been hitting here in Arizona in October, then took a little time off and started hitting again back home right at the first of the year.Q: Even if you don't play a lot during the first week of exhibitions, which Bochy has said, is it important for you to play in that first game March 3?
A: That's something I kind of mentioned to them, just because from sitting out so much, I want to get back in there. I don't want to sit in that first one. So that's something we're going to play by ear. If it is something I can do, I'll be fired up about that. But, if not, it's not the end of the world either.Q: Long term, are you fine about playing first base?
A: The way I see it is I'm not going to lie. There were some thoughts a couple of months after, well, maybe it wouldn't be bad to move. But then the more I thought about it, I realized how much I enjoy catching. As hard as I'm going to work and have worked and am going to continue to work to get back behind the plate, I want to catch for as long as I possibly can.Q: How would you describe the pull of catching?
A: It's hard to explain, but there's a lot. Working with our staff is great, from all the starters all the way through the relievers to the closer. Just the preparation. I think, for me, I like the little adjustments throughout the game where you attack a hitter one way one time and you have to change it up the second, third, fourth time through. Just the little stuff, I think.Q: Is there any position where you wouldn't feel comfortable?
A: Yeah -- center field, left field, right fieldQ: You haven't played any outfield?
A: No. I'm too slow. Well, Burrell played out there, soQ: Has taking care of your twins become part of exercise regimen?
A: Yes. You have to use your legs when you pick them up.Q: Did snapping out of a catcher's crouch feel natural?
A: Yeah. I did a little bit of that today in our drills and it felt great.Q: All things considered, do you feel "normal"?
A: Yeah. I think so. I feel good.Q: Have you watched the replay of collision much, or do you try to avoid it?
A: No, I watched it. I haven't had a problem watching it. I told somebody the other day, (Arizona shortstop) Stephen Drew got hurt and he basically did the same thing (to his ankle). It made my stomach turn watching him but I can watch mine and it doesn't bother me. I don't know why. Just going through it, I kind of know what it felt like, I guess.Q: You had some pop in your bat today.
A: Thank you! ... Even back in Arizona I felt pretty good after not hitting for four or five months. I guess I'm just blessed, in a sense, that I enjoy this game.Q: You own Ron Wotus.
A: Four-seamer, coming at 55, I tend to square that one up.

After Giants' first Coors Field sweep in 15 years, Bochy preaches urgency

After Giants' first Coors Field sweep in 15 years, Bochy preaches urgency

DENVER — Bruce Bochy watched the first two games of this road trip from his home in San Diego and the final three from the top step of the dugout at Coors Field. He did not like what he saw, but at the moment he’s more concerned with what he might hear. 

“What you have to careful of — you can’t let any kind of complacency set in and say, ‘It’s early, we’ll be ok.’ I don’t want to hear that either,” Bochy said. “It’s the old adage that you come out with some sense of urgency. All these games are important. You’ve got to stay away from that attitude, too: ‘We’re not through April yet and have 140-something games left.’ That doesn’t work out.”

Three weeks into the season, nothing is working. The rotation has a 5.02 ERA, the worst in the Majors. The lineup scored 10 runs over a five-game road trip and got shut out twice. The bullpen hasn’t been given many leads with which to make up for the first-week trouble. The defense has been uncharacteristically sloppy. 

It has added up to a 6-13 start, tied for the worst in club history. The Giants have lost six of seven and they’ll head home seven games out of first place. 

“Right now there’s nothing clicking,” Bochy said. “Let’s be honest, this has been a rough start and we’re not very good right now. I’m not saying we’re not very good. We are good, but we’ve got to find a way to come out of this. This was a tough way to end this series. We’ve been through it. I’ve got men out there and that’s when you find a way to get through this. They will.”

Perhaps Monday will bring some fresh blood for the roster. Drew Stubbs appears poised to give the Giants another veteran option should they cut bait with a struggling outfielder. Michael Morse could be an option in left field soon, and if he’s mostly relegated to first, the Giants can put Brandon Belt in the outfield. He looked fine there Sunday while playing both corner spots. 

Those are moves made around the edges of the roster, though. There is no magic bullet coming from the outside, not even Christian Arroyo, who continues to mash at Triple-A. This is a $200 million roster and much of that has been spent on the rotation. Through 13 games, it is the worst in the National League, and the ace was lost to an off-field accident. Sure, the starters have pitched at Chase Field and Coors Field, but on back-to-back days they were dominated by Rockies rookies who make a living here. 

Samardzija could not keep pace with left-hander Kyle Freeland, who sawed off a handful of bats while cruising through seven. Samardzjiza gave up a run early, two more in the fourth on a hanging splitter that was blasted to right, and five in the sixth.

Bochy challenged his starting staff to improve after Saturday’s game. He has not publicly done the same with the lineup, but subtle changes have been made here and there. It is a group that, outside of a couple of players, has lacked energy. Because they don’t hit for power, the Giants are reliant on stringing together rallies. For the fourth time in seven games, the lineup failed to put a runner on base the first time through the order. 

“Even in spring training we had our games where we had trouble getting something going early,” Bochy said. “It’s the fourth or fifth before a hit. Somehow, we’ve got to change that.”

The Giants played Sunday without Jarrett Parker (clavicle) and Denard Span (right shoulder sprain), but for the most part the lineup is healthy. Bochy said he has talked to hitting coach Hensley Meulens about possibly altering pre-game routines, but that seems a cosmetic fix. 

“We’ve talked and we’ve shaken up the lineup, but as you saw today, there’s only so much you can do,” he said. 

Bochy knows there is outside noise regarding the roster. His eyes bulged the other day when asked if Arroyo would get a call-up next week. The Giants do not feel he is quite ready, or that there is a spot for him on the infield. For all the potential bench options waiting at Triple-A, this team's core is set, and it’s not outrageously banged-up compared to the rest of the division. 

The Dodgers, who come into town Monday, have 10 players on the disabled list, including No. 2 starter Rich Hill, second baseman Logan Forsythe, and left fielder Andre Ethier. The Rockies, the best team in the NL West thus far, are off to this start without big offseason acquisition Ian Desmond and young slugger David Dahl. Jon Gray, their opening day starter, went on the DL after facing the Giants in San Francisco. Chad Bettis, a rotation member, is getting treatment for testicular cancer. 

This division is better than expected, and as the end of April approaches, the Giants are bringing up the rear. Bochy’s plea for urgency was one that would have fit right in with last season’s second half. Back then, the Giants could at least lean on a huge start that got them into the postseason. As they flew home Sunday, there was nothing to fall back on but a simple truth.

This is the team. It must play better.

“We have everything we need in this room,” Samardzija said. “Sometimes you need to go out on the field and prove it.”

 

Instant Replay: Giants' struggles continue in sweep from Rockies

Instant Replay: Giants' struggles continue in sweep from Rockies

BOX SCORE

DENVER — Bruce Bochy spent about 10 minutes before Sunday’s game talking about potential options in left field and center. The problems for this lineup, however, currently go much deeper than the outfield. 

A day after the Giants managed just four hits off Antonio Senzatela, the bats went completely limp against fellow Rockies rookie Kyle Freeland. The Giants were shut out 8-0, a rarity at Coors Field. They were blanked twice on the road trip and scored just 10 runs during a five-game swing through Kansas City and Denver. 

The sweep at Coors Field was the Giants' first since 2002. At 6-13, they have the worst record in the National League.

For the fourth time in seven games, and third time on this five-game road trip, the Giants went one time through the order without a baserunner. That puts added pressure on your starter, and Jeff Samardzija couldn’t keep it close. Charlie Blackmon hit a leadoff liner to right that was misplayed into a triple and he scored on a sacrifice fly. Gerardo Parra got a spinner down in the zone in the fourth and blasted a two-run shot to right. 

As they did Saturday night, the Rockies pulled away with a huge rally. Nolan Arenado’s infield single and a walk of Carlos Gonzalez set the table in the sixth. Gerardo Parra lined a single to center and all runners advanced when Gorkys Hernandez kicked it. Trevor Story’s single to right was bobbled by Hunter Pence and two more scored. Blackmon’s double made it 8-0.

Starting pitching report: Samardzija was charged with seven earned in 5 1/3 innings. He has a 7.40 ERA through four starts. The starting staff has a 5.02 ERA, the worst in the majors. That won’t play, not when you’ve spent most of your resources the last two years on starters. 

Bullpen report: Hunter Strickland's Mullet had a scoreless debut. 

At the plate: Nope. 

In the field: Brandon Belt’s first start in left this season was rather uneventful. He caught a liner right at him in the first and came up inches short on a diving attempt in foul territory. Belt moved to right in the seventh inning. He had one previous inning there in the big leagues but he actually prefers right because it’s the same angle as his normal position. Belt gloved a liner right at him in the eighth. 

Attendance: The Rockies announced a crowd of 42,011 human beings and one donkey, who was a menace. 

Up next: The first look at the Dodgers. The Giants will see Hyun-Jin Ryu, Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood and likely Julio Urias in the four-game series.