Programming note: Change the channel to CSN Bay Area immediately following the game to watch Buster Posey's MVP ceremony in its entirety.
“Will we get a 30-minute filibuster?” I asked.
“More like a 30-second Buster,” he replied.
Quick wits, that kid.
Posey will get his MVP trophy (presented by our own dapper BBWAA chapter chair, Raymond Ratto Esq.) in a pregame to-do with former recipients Jeff Kent and Kevin Mitchell alongside, and even though you can’t watch it live, you can see it in its entirety on CSN Bay Area as part of our postgame coverage.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy offered the highest praise possible for Posey, saying: “I’m very fortunate to have done this awhile, and manage some great players, and he’s as good as I’ve had.”
Considering that list includes Tony Gwynn and Barry Bonds, that’s quite a statement.
Posey will present a challenge for Bochy, though. It’ll be a temptation to run him out there more often than last season, when he started 111 games behind the plate, 29 at first base and three more at DH.
Bochy said yes, he did expect Posey might catch a few more games. But not many more. The manager said he’s not only thinking about keeping Posey fresh into the second half, but also to hold down the wear and tear that could have a cumulative effect from one year to the next.
“If it ain’t broke…” Bochy said. “But this being his first full year after the (ankle) injury, I could see him catching a little bit more.”
The key question: How will Bochy try to pace Posey? And which pitcher will he pick to give his MVP a break, so as to keep as much continuity as possible between the battery?
“Good question,” Bochy said. “We’ll see where the schedule takes us. That will dictate when Buster will catch and who’s (on the mound) when he gets a break.”
To wit: Bochy mentioned that Wednesday is a day game after a night game, but he said he doesn’t necessarily have to rest Posey on Wednesday. He could pick Tuesday night, instead.
Left unsaid: Lincecum is starting Tuesday.
Yes, I think Posey will get his rest often on Lincecum's day. And I think Bochy will use the schedule to explain it.
A conspiracy? A simmering tension between Lincecum and Posey?
I understand why folks continue to suspect those things. But I really don’t think that’s the issue. I’ll try to explain why:
From the beginning last year, Barry Zito was the guy designated for Hector Sanchez to catch as much as possible. And yes, at the time, there were whispers about whether Zito and Posey didn’t get along. I did sense a touch of frustration a time or two when a run scored because Posey was positioning himself too far in fair territory on plays at the plate. But Zito never had a problem working with Posey, and they way they performed together in the postseason proved those rumors were unfounded. (They got off to a great start together in Friday’s home opener as well.)
So why, last year, did Bochy choose Zito's turn as the day to rest Posey? Well, remember, Zito was viewed as the No.5 starter after an awful spring, and a fringy one at that. Heading into the year, I’ll bet Bochy figured he’d might as well give Posey a break in those games, since it would be a boon to win them anyway. (As it turned out, of course, the Giants went 21-11 in Zito’s starts.)
If you had to pick a de facto No.5 starter this year, it would be Lincecum, right? (I’m not talking about where they started in the rotation in the first turn. I’m talking about picking the pitcher for whom you have the most modest expectations. Pretty easy call, all things considered.)
So I think if Bochy has Posey rest or play first base on Lincecum's day, it’ll be for the same reasons he had Hector catch Zito to start last season. Might as well rest your MVP for the games you’re least likely to win. That’s never anything Bochy could say publicly, of course. He has to express confidence in Lincecum just like every other member of his pitching staff. So he'll use the schedule to explain it away, and the conspiracy theorists will keep on theorizing.
One more point: It's true that catching Lincecum is physically taxing, and so you might as well let the backup take the beating. Sanchez sure didn’t look great when receiving Lincecum on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium, though, and if that continues, the Giants will have to address it in one fashion or another. Maybe start Guillermo Quiroz instead.
Anyway, that’s how I expect it’ll break down, and why. Feel free to agree or disagree.
Bochy was asked if he wanted to get Quiroz a start. He said no, not really.
“He knows the role,” Bochy said. “That’s the role of a third catcher.”
Bochy knows that role pretty well, too. In 1980 with the Houston Astros, he was up all year and got only 22 at-bats.
What, is this still spring training? Beginning with Friday’s home opener, the Giants are playing eight day games out of 10. There’s a four-game series, all in the sunshine (hopefully), at Wrigley Field beginning Thursday.
Bochy was asked, mostly in jest, if he’ll have a curfew. His answer surprised.
“Oh, there’s a curfew,” he said. We treat ‘em like men. We don’t check, but they do have a curfew.”
Bochy won’t hide behind a potted palm in the lobby. But he joked that he’d “have the bellmen getting autographs and write what time they came in.”