Sanchez's success may lead to less catching for Posey

Sanchez's success may lead to less catching for Posey
September 8, 2013, 12:45 pm
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Hector Sanchez's play could determine how soon the Giants decide to move Buster Posey to a new position to keep his bat in the lineup more often. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

SAN FRANCISCO – Buster Posey’s fractured right ring finger passed the tests in batting practice on Saturday, so he’s back in the lineup Sunday against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

At first base.

It’s a position he hasn’t played as often this season – it’s just his 15th start, after 29 of them last year – but the emergence of switch-hitting backup Hector Sanchez is making it more and more likely that next year will resemble the 2012 paradigm when it comes to Posey’s playing time.

And eventually, a competent Sanchez would make it easier for the Giants to move Posey from behind the plate entirely, either as a first baseman or third baseman.

“This guy has a chance to be a starting catcher with us,” Bochy said of Sanchez, who is hitting .333 with three homers and 14 RBI in his last 18 games.

More impressively, Sanchez came within a pitch of catching a perfect game while working with Yusmeiro Petit on Friday. And a day before that, Ryan Vogelsong acknowledged he made a mistake by getting away from Sanchez’s game plan.

“He’s getting a good idea of following a game plan, and not only that, but making adjustments that need to be made,” Bochy said of Sanchez.

And with the bat?

“He’s got the potential to be a guy who can hit fifth of sixth,” Bochy said. “He’s balanced on both sides. Sometimes we do forget he’s only 23." 

Bochy even praised Sanchez’s quickness at blocking pitches, even though it’s been an issue in his career. When he misses pitches, it’s more an issue of fatigue and focus – things that can be corrected if Sanchez makes fitness more of a priority this winter. That’s why Bochy talked to Sanchez last month after a rough start in Miami, when the catcher acknowledged he was gassed.

And Bochy plans to talk to Sanchez again in the next week or so. He plans to recommend that Sanchez play a little winter ball in Venezuela, but not too much. It was in winter ball last year that Sanchez injured his shoulder – an issue that lingered all the way through the All-Star break and threatened to make this season a total waste.

It’s not a waste now. The way Sanchez is playing, it could have an influence on how much Posey catches next season, and if he catches at all the year after that. And those are big decisions for the organization to make.

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Bochy said Posey’s finger “came around in the last 24 hours, and he really surprised me yesterday by taking batting practice.” The throwing bothers him a little bit, which is why he’s at first base.

Posey fractured his finger last Tuesday in San Diego when a pitch from Madison Bumgarner skipped off the plate and hit his bare hand. First basemen don’t get those injuries, obviously.

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The Giants lineup is looking a little ragtag on a day when they’d be eliminated from the NL West with a loss or a Dodgers victory.

But Angel Pagan is getting a scheduled day off after playing three in a row, and Bochy plans to rest Marco Scutaro in day games the rest of the way. Also, Pablo Sandoval’s back is a little stiff, so he’s resting as a precaution.

Hunter Pence is in there, though. He’s started every game this season and he’s trying to become the first Giant to play 162 since Will Clark in 1988.

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