Pressure accompanies Posey's return


Pressure accompanies Posey's return

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.

Vin Scully on Dodgers Opening Day: ‘I’ll probably have things to do’

Vin Scully on Dodgers Opening Day: ‘I’ll probably have things to do’

WASHINGTON -- On Monday, the Dodgers will play their first opening day since 1950 without Vin Scully calling their games. He won't be in the stands. He won't make a point of watching on TV, either.

"It's a day game. I'll probably have things to do," the famed 89-year-old announcer told The Associated Press from his home in Hidden Hills, California. "I might catch a piece of it."

Not that Scully has any regrets since retiring after last season. He says he's grateful for every minute he spent with the Dodgers, the franchise he joined 67 years ago in Brooklyn and followed to Los Angeles eight years later. He feels blessed to have worked as long as he did covering the game he fell in love with as a boy.

But he's learned that after a lifetime in the broadcast booth, watching a game as a fan holds little appeal.

"During the World Series back around '77 or '78, there was a game at Dodger Stadium with the Yankees, and I went to the game as a spectator. Now, I hadn't been as a spectator in a long, long time, and I felt somewhat restless that I wasn't broadcasting," Scully recalled Tuesday.

"I did not have the challenge of trying to describe, accurately and quickly, the way it should be done. I just sat there, and I was not happy, I'll be honest. So I realized that although I love the game, what I loved more was broadcasting it," he said.

Scully spoke to the AP because the Library of Congress has announced it will preserve his call of a 1957 game between the Dodgers and the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds, the final time they played at the hallowed old stadium. Both teams moved to California after that season, opening up the West Coast to Major League Baseball.

Scully's call of Sandy Koufax's 1965 perfect game is more famous. But that game at the Polo Grounds meant more to him personally, because he grew up going to games there, cheering for the Giants and dreaming of watching from the press box.

"It was so meaningful to me. I'm not sure what it really means to baseball fans anymore," Scully said. "The sands of time have washed over the Polo Grounds. But for me, it was one of the more memorable games I was ever involved in."

During that broadcast, Scully implored the players to take their time before there franchises left town: "Let's take it easy, we just want to take one last lingering look at both of you." The Library of Congress called it "a masterful example of the artistry that great sports announcers bring to their work, as well as their empathy for players and fans."

Six decades later, Scully is having an easier time letting go. So no plans to keep track Monday when Los Angeles plays the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium.

"All summer long, I expect to get feelings of nostalgia, wistfulness, whatever the word may be, but no, I am comfortable, I do know in my heart and soul I am where I should be, and that really is all I need," he said.

"Sure, after 67 years, you'll bet I'll miss it," he added. "But heck, I miss the guys I hung out with when I was in school."

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

MESA, Ariz. — The Giants went 0-62 last season when trailing after eight innings. Chris Marrero wasn’t around for any of that, but it’s a stat that could help Marrero as he tries to lock up a bench spot. 

The first baseman/left fielder crushed a three-run shot in the ninth inning Tuesday, wiping out a two-run deficit against the Cubs. Marrero also has two walk-off homers this spring. 

“This kid, you see it when he goes up there. He’s got great focus,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s intensity and determination. From day one, you could see it in his at-bats. Late in the game, he seems very comfortable. He wants to go up there.”

Tuesday’s homer, which shot out to right-center, was the eighth of the spring for Marrero. That ties him with a guy named Bryce Harper for the MLB lead, and the vast majority of Marrero’s bombs were no-doubters. 

“It’s been a great spring for him,” Bochy said. “The last game here, it seems fitting that he would do something like that. He’s already done it a couple of times. This kid has done all he can. I love his swing and the work that he’s put in.”

With Michael Morse down, Marrero is the best remaining option as a power right-handed bat off the bench, a glaring need a year ago. Justin Ruggiano, another one in the mix, followed Marrero’s shot with one of his own. The homer was Ruggiano’s second of the spring. 

Ruggiano is a better fit defensively in the outfield, but Marrero has been solid at first and Bochy said he’s fine with what he’s seen in left field. “He’s still working on it,” Bochy said, noting that Marrero will play left field during the Bay Bridge Series. 

LEADING OFF: Denard Span saw a wild pitch bounce off the bricks behind home plate, and he never slowed down. Span sped around third in the second inning and slid in ahead of the throw. The notable part of the play wasn’t that a quirky bounce allowed Span to take 180 feet on a wild pitch. It was that his legs did. The 33-year-old has been a different guy in his second spring with the Giants. Last year, Span was coming off hip surgery. This spring, his old game has returned.

“I’ve just been able to do the things I’ve always been able to do,” Span said. “I have more control of my body. I’m stronger. I had a full offseason and a full spring training to get my legs up under me. The last couple of weeks, I’ve felt much better and more confident.”

A healthy and spry Span would be a big boost to a lineup that often looked flat in the second half last season Span showed off every aspect of his game Tuesday. He blasted a leadoff homer on Jake Arrieta’s second pitch, and during their second matchup, he put a perfect bunt down the third base line for a single. Span stole second easily before his race home. 

“He’s playing terrific baseball and he’s been a real inspiration, being our leadoff hitter,” Bochy said. “That’s what we needed — energy at the top of the order.”

TRAINER’S ROOM: Eduardo Nuñez (shoulder) is feeling much better, and Bochy said he’ll play third base during the games at AT&T Park before getting four or five innings at shortstop on Saturday. Joe Panik (drilled in the back on Monday) said he’s feeling fine. 

POSITION BATTLES: Here’s the latest on Matt Cain, and here’s an update on Aaron Hill and Jimmy Rollins. 

ICYMI: Big news today from NBC Bay Area. Matt Williams, Javier Lopez and Cody Ross have joined out pre- and post-game shows. You can find stories about those guys on our homepage here. Those shows will also now be an hour long on both ends of the game, adding an extra hour of Giants coverage to your day. Which is good. 

That’s all on the way during the regular season. If you missed any of our spring coverage, you can find a bunch of features here, and podcasts here (spring pods included Mike Morse, Matt Cain, Mac Williamson, Jimmy Rollins and others, with one more coming this week). And in case you’re new to our coverage, the Twitter account is here and the Facebook page is here. Next stop, San Francisco …