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.

Dodgers infielder weighs in on Harper's errant helmet throw

Dodgers infielder weighs in on Harper's errant helmet throw

Before the right hooks and haymakers, there was the helmet toss.

A very bad helmet toss.

As he made his way to the mound after getting hit by a pitch on Monday afternoon, Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper attempted to throw his helmet at Giants reliever Hunter Strickland. He missed by a wide margin.

Observers took notice, including Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner.

"What was worse, Harper's helmet throw or 50 Cents first pitch? Heads up in the #McCoveyCove," Turner tweeted shortly after the brawl between the Giants and Nationals.

Turner is referring to a ceremonial first pitch thrown by rapper 50 Cent prior to a Mets game in 2014.

Harper mentioned the helmet when addressing the situation after the game.

"I was trying to go after him, with the helmet or with myself, just doing what I needed to do keep it going, I guess," Harper told reporters.


Fight Notes: Harper thought this was over; Giants collide; Posey avoids it

Fight Notes: Harper thought this was over; Giants collide; Posey avoids it

SAN FRANCISCO — When the Nationals visited AT&T Park for the first time after the 2014 postseason series, Bryce Harper took to Instagram to compliment the city. “Nothing like SF! #BayArea” he wrote underneath a photo of the Bay Bridge. 

Harper, a Las Vegas kid, has always seemed to enjoy facing the Giants. He hasn’t hit well at AT&T Park, but he was a star in their 2014 matchup and he praised Brandon Crawford on Twitter during this year’s WBC. The greeting Monday was not a friendly one. 

Harper was retired three times by Matt Moore. The first pitch he saw from Hunter Strickland left a dent on his hip and set off a wild brawl. 

Strickland denied any intent. Harper seemed confused by the timing of the payback pitch. 

“It’s so in the past, it’s not even relevant anymore,” he said of their 2014 series, according to Dan Kolko of MASN. “They won the World Series that year. I don’t think he should even be thinking about what happened in the first round. He should be thinking about wearing that ring home every single night. I don’t know why he did it or what he did it for, but I guess it happens.”

The Giants were not surprised when Harper reacted the way he did. Now they’ll wait for Strickland to get hit with a suspension, and Harper is looking at a layoff, too. 

“You never want to get suspended or anything like that, but sometimes you’ve got to go and get him,” Harper said. “You can’t hesitate. You either go to first base or you go after him. And I decided to go after him.”

Strickland, about an hour after the fight, said he’s not sure what will happen in terms of discipline. 

“That’s their decision and obviously I’ll take whatever consequences come with it and we’ll go from there,” he said. 

Any action by the league is unlikely to impact this series. Even if suspensions are handed down swiftly, players can appeal. Harper and Strickland may not be alone. Several players jumped into the fray aggressively and at least one non-active Giant — Hunter Pence — was right in the middle of the scrum. At the very least, he could be facing a fine for trying to help his teammate. 

“It doesn't look good when a guy gets hit but also on their side, the guy throws his helmet,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Strickland’s got to stand his ground. There’s no choice there. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen (with suspensions).”

One player who won’t face discipline: Madison Bumgarner, who is also on the DL but wisely stayed away from this one, even if it probably killed him to do so. 

--- The biggest hit didn’t come from Strickland or Harper. It was Jeff Samardzija and Michael Morse coming together in the middle of the field. Both players said they were fine. 

"I was just trying to get in there to break everything up," Morse said. "We lost the game, that's what's most important."

Ahhh, yes, the Giants lost 3-0. Bochy seemed particularly peeved that Strickland chose the eighth inning of a 2-0 game to exact revenge, and you can bet some teammates weren't thrilled. We'll see if there's anything more to this Tuesday. There was a lot of adrenaline flowing, but some of these guys might not be feeling so spry when they wake up in the morning. Bochy said he had not heard any reports of players getting injured, but he also admitted that he didn't see most of the collisions and had no idea what happened with Morse and Samardzija, who had a world-class reaction, by the way.  

--- As with the incident with the Dodgers a couple weeks ago, Buster Posey stayed out of this one. Smartly. 

"After it happened I saw Harper point and the next thing you know he's going out after them," Posey said. "Those are some big guys tumbling on the ground. You see Michael Morse, as big as he is, and he's getting knocked around like a pinball."

Posey is not alone in staying away from these scrums where 250-pound dudes are flying at knees and ankles. Brandon Crawford can often be found on the outside, as well. It's smart, but I think something else was at play here today. Posey understands that the Giants are fighting for every scrap at this point. Every loss digs the hole that much deeper, and this happened with two outs in the eighth inning of a 2-0 game, against a team with a poor bullpen. I'd imagine there was some serious annoyance there. 

--- How angry was Strickland? It took three guys, three big guys, to drag him into the dugout: Pence, Mac Williamson, and George Kontos. 

"I was pretty fired up to be honest with you, but that’s just adrenaline," he said. 

--- Baseball fights are rather silly, but at least you get some phenomenal photos.