Giants

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 Stratton leads way in Giants' shutout, what does his future hold?

After Stratton leads way in Giants' shutout, what does his future hold?

SAN FRANCISCO — After the final out Monday night, a round table was carried into the corner of the home clubhouse at AT&T Park and surrounded by chairs. Eleven players were sitting, eating, drinking and laughing as Chris Stratton prepared to address the media. 

It was a rare sight for the Giants these days, a very rare sight. But then, so was Monday’s result. Stratton led the way in a 2-0 win over the Brewers that was the first home shutout of the season and motivated the joyous post-game scene. 

The shutout was just the second of the season for the staff. Ty Blach went the distance in the other one and Stratton, a fellow rookie, did the heavy lifting Monday, throwing six strong innings before giving way to the bullpen. Matt Cain pitched the seventh, Mark Melancon pitched the eighth while going back-to-back for the first time in three months, and Sam Dyson closed it out quickly. 

There’s a chance that Stratton joins that group in a few days. Johnny Cueto is scheduled to make a rehab start on Tuesday night in Sacramento and that could put him on track to return to the rotation a turn later. That would line up with Stratton’s next start, but Bruce Bochy wasn’t ready to kick the young righty out of the rotation, not after back-to-back scoreless starts against two of the better lineups in the league. A few days after striking out 10 Washington Nationals, Stratton cut through the Brewers. He has 12 2/3 scoreless innings over his past two appearances. 

“For how we’re using him, he’s really handled it well,” Bochy said. “We skipped him, moved him back three or four days, but he doesn’t let it faze him. This is an important time for these young players coming up, whether it’s (Ryder) Jones or (Jarrett) Parker or Stratton. They’re trying to show they belong in the Major Leagues.

“You’re hoping these guys show they’re ready to play here and we don’t have to do something else because we can do it internally.”

Bochy said he could use a six-man rotation when Cueto returns, or a starter could be skipped. That will all sort itself, but the manager made one thing clear. 

“We’d like to pitch him as much as we can,” Bochy said of Stratton.

That’s the same thing Bochy used to say of another right-hander, one he compared Stratton to before Monday’s game. Bochy was asked about Yusmeiro Petit, and he smiled and fondly stated, “He was so good. So good.” The Giants see some Petit in Stratton. He is unaffected by long layoffs and he’s capable of starting, relieving, or even pumping his fastball up a couple ticks for short outings. 

Petit was a mainstay in San Francisco for years, a key cog in a championship team. Bochy has been looking for that piece since Petit departed in free agency, and Stratton seems like he might be suited for the role. He will want more, of course, because all pitchers do. The Giants will give him five more weeks here to try and earn that. 

For the moment, Stratton’s focus is elsewhere. He turns 27 on Monday and the celebration started early. As Stratton answered questions, veterans at the table heckled him about striking out just one Brewer. 

“I left all the strikeouts in Washington, I guess,” Stratton said. 

Nick Hundley walked up with a TV remote and held it up between the cameras. 

“What was your thought on the punchout?” he asked. 

“I’m glad he swung,” Stratton said, smiling. “It was a ball.”

“Did you think about getting any more?” Hundley asked. 

With that, he smiled and ducked back behind the cameras to return to the celebration in the corner. A few minutes later, Stratton joined him.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' first home shutout of 2017

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' first home shutout of 2017

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — Ty Blach has been a bright spot in this losing season, giving the Giants a young, cost-controlled lefty who can potentially fill a huge role next season. Chris Stratton is trying to do the same thing from the right side. 

The 26-year-old continued his August surge, throwing six dominant innings against the Brewers in a 2-0 win that was the staff's first shutout at AT&T Park this season. 

It was the kind of night that's been so familiar over the years. The Giants had six home shutouts last season. Here are five things to know from this year's first ... 

—- The Brewers are first in the league in homers and the Nationals are third, so Stratton had his work cut out for him the last two times out. His results: 12 2/3 innings, 9 hits, 0 runs, 3 walks, 11 strikeouts. That’s quite the statement. Stratton’s scoreless streak is the longest by a Giants rookie starter since Chris Heston threw 16 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings in July of 2015. 

—- Matt Cain was used as a short reliever to protect a two-run lead in the seventh. He had a 1-2-3 inning that ended with a strikeout. 

—- Mark Melancon pitched back-to-back games for the first time since May 19-20. He struck out Neil Walker and Ryan Braun in a perfect inning. 

—- Jarrett Parker reached base his first three times up. He’s hitting .385 at home this season but he’s just 4-for-35 (.114) on the road. Weird splits for a Giant slugger. 

—- Brandon Crawford is finally finding some traction. His double in the fourth was the big hit in a two-run frame that gave Stratton a lead to work with. Crawford is 7-for-17 on the home stand with three extra-base hits and four RBI.