Pressure accompanies Posey's return

February 3, 2012, 11:25 pm
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Lincecums rock star persona aside, theres no doubt who will be the biggest draw at San Francisco Giants Fanfest at AT&T Park.

The favorite son. Buster Posey is back, without crutches or a boot or a scooter.

And hes expected to be the Giants' offensive savior.

So, no pressure, Buster.

But Posey seems eager to get back into savior mode. He wont mind meeting his adoring fans Saturday. On Friday, in his media session, he made it clear that the fans outpouring of sympathy, concern and get-well cards after his season-ending ankle injury last May was truly meaningful to him.

The fans have been really, really special from the first day that Ive been here, Posey said. It was pretty neat. It was something my wife and I could feel, that we could see. We could feel the emotion watching on TV, see the signs.

No question it helps you. Helps your psyche, helps with the recovery process.

Posey said the recovery process is on schedule. He expects to be the Giants' starting catcher when they open at the Diamondbacks on April 6.

I expect to be, yeah, he said.

He is, however, being realistic. He knows that stints at first andor third could be in the works for him this season and maybe for the long-term.

I enjoy catching, he said. But if I cant, I have to be realistic. I feel pretty confident that I will be able to. Its just a matter of endurance through the course of the year. But I think I will have good endurance.

One thing is for certain: Posey is planning to enjoy every minute of the season.

Im looking forward to every bit of it, he said. When you see how quickly it can be goneIm going to do my best to enjoy it.

Im more appreciative of what I do, he added. Its such a long season that you can get caught up in the grind. I hope I can use it when its August 14th and were playing in Atlanta and its 130 degrees. I can say, All right, well I am playing.

Posey said his rehabilitation was slightly ahead of schedule. He stayed in Arizona until early November and then went home to Georgia. Giants staff members came to visit him and monitor his progress. Though his ankle is stiff in the mornings, he said it feels good in the crouch.

The silver lining of his injury was being a stay-at-home father to his new twins. Now almost six months old, Lee Dempsey and Addison Lynn are trying to figure out how to crawl and take turns keeping their parents awake at night -- they have yet to synchronize their sleep schedules.

Posey said he hasnt talked to Scott Cousins, the Marlin who slammed into him and caused his injury. And he doesnt plan to. He said he wants to move forward and doesnt think hell have any mental obstacles about playing again.

He knows that might be more difficult for his wife.

Im sure it will be, he said. I know my wife will be nervous. But she knows I love what I do.

Posey said his biggest struggle was to keep a positive mindset as the season wore on.

One of the hardest things was, just mentally, keeping a good mind set, he said. Your job is to get healthy and theres not much else you can do. Youre used to coming in every day prepared to play and the next day youre done for the year. Its a big adjustment.

His staff is excited to have him back. Lincecum who got better and better with Posey as 2010 progressed until they were dominant together in the postseason - talked about the groove he and Posey were in early in 2011. On May 21, in a game against the As, Lincecum said Posey drew out the best in him.

I felt like he was just on, Lincecum said. I felt like I didnt have my stuff that day. But he called a great game that day. After I throw the last pitch, strike three, he gives me the ball. I said, good game and gave him a hug,and he said Why arent you excited? I said, Im still pissed because my stuff didnt feel good.

But Posey got him through it. That was their last appearance together in 2011. Four days later, Posey was finished.

Barring an unforeseen spring training setback, Lincecum and Posey should be back together on Opening Day, trying to recapture the magic.

Weve got to be better offensively, Posey said, when asked what the Giants needed. No doubt about that.

Welcome back, Mr. Savior.

Freelance writer Ann Killion is a frequent contributor to and Chronicle Live.

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