Posey won't start blocking the plate in postseason, etc.


Posey won't start blocking the plate in postseason, etc.

SAN DIEGO Buster Poseys voice remained raspy one dayafter taking a ball off his throat, but hes in the lineup to catch MadisonBumgarner Saturday night at Petco Park.

Why is Posey killing himself down the stretch when theGiants have clinched already?

Why am I killing myself? Posey said, smiling. I'm notdoing it on purpose.

There is no questioning Poseys toughness after he shook offa pregame stomach ailment, remained in the game following the scary ball offhis larynx, caught all nine innings and also hustled on two extra-base hits towiden his lead in the NL batting race.

But when it comes to plays at the plate, Posey isntbudging. Asked if he would position himself less conservatively in theplayoffs, even blocking the dish when necessary, the probable NL MVP said hewouldnt change what hes done in the regular season.

I dont think you change something youve been doing allyear, Posey told me. Id say no.

And I didnt Ive never sat in front of the plate. Ididnt do that before I got hurt. So it wouldnt be normal for me to startdoing that, blocking like that.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy is just fine with that, too.

We dont want to change anything about how we play the gamein the playoffs, Bochy told me. We want these guys to play the game hard andright, and Buster makes a great point. Hes got to do what is comfortable.

Even before his season-ending collision at the plate on May25 last season, Bochy had forbidden Posey from blocking the plate. It made nodifference that night against the Florida Marlins, when the throw from rightfield beat baserunner Scott Cousins to the plate and he delivered a targeted,shoulder-to-shoulder hit that bowled over Posey, fracturing his leg and rippingthree ankle ligaments.

RELATED: Posey loses voice but not ground in batting race

During the spring, Bochy and bullpen catcher Bill Hayesworked with Posey on positioning in fair territory and reaching back to makeswipe tags. Its something Posey did in the past, but he has been even moreconservative with his positioning this season. A handful of runs might havebeen prevented if Posey had set himself up nearer to the dish.

Its been an adjustment, and not so much on Busters partas much as for the rest of us, Bochy said. Sure, a couple times he said hegot distracted where he was and got out in front a little more. But we saw whatlife was like without him. Its risk vs. reward.

And you know, that play, you dont get a lot of em. Youcan practice it, but its still so hard to simulate a play like that.

They do happen, though and as J.T. Snow and PudgeRodriguez can attest, sometimes they happen with the outcome of a postseasonseries hanging in the balance. The Giants won 100 regular-season games in 2003only to get bounced in the first round when Rodriguez held onto the ball afterSnow plowed into him.

Backup catcher Hector Sanchez has saved more than a coupleof runs this season while blocking the plate, too.

None of this is to suggest that Posey is incapable ofplaying his position. In fact, just last week, he made a terrific pickup ofshortstop Brandon Crawfords relay throw and applied a deft tag.

The throw will take you from certain spots, Posey said. Themain thing is to stay light on your feet and try to be in the best position youcan.

Posey said other than his voice, he felt fine and saw noreason to sit out Saturdays game. Its his last opportunity to catch Bumgarnerbefore theyd work together in the postseason. (Game 2 remains the best guess.)

He said he was in discomfort for roughly three innings aftertaking the ball to the throat. He also showed that his sense of humor is inbetter shape than his voice.

Asked if he had any trouble breathing after the impact, hesmiled and said, I dont believe I wouldve stayed in if I couldnt breathe.

Xavier Nady is getting another start in left field against aleft-handed pitcher. Not only did he take some good swings Friday night anddemonstrate an improved hamstring while hitting his first triple since 2008,but he also made a nice catch on left field after going back aggressively onthe ball.

Happy birthday to Giants third base coach Tim Flannery. Idont know many 55-year-olds who can scamper down the line like he can.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants dropping series vs Braves

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants dropping series vs Braves


SAN FRANCISCO — The kid who raced The Freeze on Thursday night blew a tire as he hit center field, hobbled for about 50 feet, and then went down for good. He still had a better night than the Giants. 

They blew all four tires in the fifth, giving up eight runs in a nightmare frame that turned a two-run lead into a 12-11 loss. The Giants finished 1-7 on the swing through Denver and Atlanta, and they have lost 18 of their last 23 games. 

But, let’s face it, you’re here already. So here are five more things to know from the night … 

—- Matt Cain was hanging in there until the fifth, and then … disaster. The inning started with Brandon Phillips’ solo shot that cut the lead to one. Then it went single, single before Cain was relieved by Bryan Morris. After that, it was single, single, single, sacrifice fly, homer, flyout, walk, single, pitching change, single. 

—- Morris had to wear it in the fifth because the bullpen is short, and boy, did he wear it. Morris gave up five runs on five hits and a walk. His ERA jumped two full points in two-thirds of an inning. 

—- Kyle Crick made his MLB debut in that horrendous bottom of the fifth. The Giants surely did not want to bring him in with runners on, but Bruce Bochy had no choice when Morris blew up. Crick’s first pitch was a 95 mph heater. After giving up a hit in that inning, he pitched a perfect sixth and perfect seventh. Crick topped out at 97 mph. Pretty, pretty good stuff there. He needs to get a long look the rest of this year. 

—- In the second, Buster Posey hit a ball that went 311 feet and had a hit probability of just six percent. Cain hit a ball 357 feet. Posey got a homer that bounced off the top of the wall; Cain just got a double. Baseball is such an odd game.  

—- On a positive note, Javi Lopez, who calls Brandon Belt “Sparky,” repeatedly referred to Posey as Gerald. He’s going to be good at this job. 

Why you shouldn't freak out in June about Cueto's opt-out

Why you shouldn't freak out in June about Cueto's opt-out

SAN FRANCISCO — There’s a very important fact you need to keep in mind when talk of Johnny Cueto’s opt-out comes up, as it so often will over the next six weeks: The Giants always expected him to opt-out after this season, from the moment the ink was dry on the six-year, $130-million contract. 

When you sign at the top of your game and have a chance to hit the market at 31 years old and cash out a second time, you take it. Those are just the rules of professional sports. On the day Cueto was introduced, his agent, Bryce Dixon, said the two-year opt-out was important because they felt Cueto didn’t get a totally fair shot at free agency. 

“Johnny, a little bit unfairly, had a lot of questions about his arm,” Dixon said in December of 2015. “I felt we could reestablish his actual value … He knows he’s as good as (David) Price and (Zack) Greinke, but his situation was a little different.”

The Giants were fine with this, too. The flip side of the opt-out is that if you have the chance to pay a dominant right-hander $46 million over two years, and then escape his mid- to late-thirties, you do it. Every time. You don’t even blink. 

So, here we are, in June of the second year of that deal, with reports that Cueto will opt out. You should take a deep breath because you should have already expected this. But if you didn’t, take comfort in this: By all indications, Cueto has not made a decision, even with the Giants having an unimaginably poor season. 

First of all, Cueto can't make a decision in June. What if the blisters return and he repeats his April ERA a couple more times? What if his elbow starts barking? There are no guarantees with pitchers, and until Cueto gets through the second season, there will be no finality with his decision. 

Aside from the fact that he really can’t make that decision, though, sources insist Cueto hasn’t made up his mind or even thought much about it. People familiar with his thinking continue to say the focus has been baseball all season long, from spring training through his last start. 

Cueto is said to be happy in San Francisco and he enjoys pitching in front of the crowd at AT&T Park. His biggest concern has been wins and losses, and in that respect, this has been a disappointing year for all involved. 

That record has brought the Giants to a crossroads, and this is where it gets interesting. The easy solution is to trade Cueto next month, avoid the opt-out situation entirely, and add prospects to a system lacking them. But, it’s complicated. The Giants do not intend a full teardown, and if they’re going for it again in 2018 — with their core of Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Madison Bumgarner, etc. locked in, that’s the plan — they’ll want that second ace at the top of the rotation. And if Bumgarner doesn’t return to form after an injury, they’ll need Cueto’s presence. 

The Giants have until July 31 to decide what to do with Cueto. He has until three days after the World Series ends to decide what to do with his contract. Here in June, by all indications, those decisions haven’t been made.