NEW YORK – Buster Posey would never admit to fatigue.
But when his second-half slugging percentage plunges by 200 points, when he’s 2 for 29 on the final road trip of the season, when he’s taking fastballs down the middle and chasing sliders – and when he volunteers to reporters that he’ll look into some additional strength training this winter so he can maintain his energy level next year …
Well, you don’t have to be Encyclopedia Brown to connect the dots.
“Going into the offseason, I always try to have a plan to do what I can do to be better next year, whether its trying to do strength training so you feel good all year,” said Posey, after going hitless in four trips during a flat 6-0 loss at Yankee Stadium on Saturday.
Strength training, specifically?
“Yeah, that’s the plan,” he said. “Try to figure out everything you can do be better for next year.”
The reigning NL MVP isn’t very good right now. He entered Saturday with just a .322 slugging percentage since the All-Star break. (It was .536 before the break.) His average dipped below .300 for the first time since June 12. He’s hit two home runs since the break – and that’s after he had monster second halves in 2010 and ’12.
“We’re all seeing the same thing: his timing is off,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “As good as he is, it happens. He’s caught in between and everyone goes through it and he’s going through it now.
“He’s such a good hitter but I don’t care how good you are. You’ll have your moments like this in this game.”
If it were only a timing thing, and nothing more, Posey would’ve figured it out by now. It’s not like he’s Wade Boggs or Tony Gwynn going on five batting crowns. But he’s done enough in his short career to make you realize that he’s a pure hitter. He is one of those special talents.
Funny how the most talented players often give you the narrowest window into their world.
“It’s just my timing is a little off,” Posey said. “That’s the main thing. You keep going, you keep pushing.
“For me it’s letting the ball travel a little more. See it deeper. You just have to do it.”
There’s not much depth left in the schedule. Just one more road game, then a one-week homestand.
And then, apparently, a winter of strength training.
Let's be clear about this: A productive Posey might have put the team on his back for a couple weeks, as he did last year. But he couldn’t have rescued this season by himself. At this time next year, the Giants hope to be more relevant in September, in position when they’ll need him to produce. This second-half swoon aside, you have to think he's a pretty safe bet to deliver.
Pablo Sandoval exited another game early because his back stiffened up, and even with an expanded roster, Bochy will have to make some begrudging choices on the infield Sunday in the farewell game for retiring Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte.
He might have to start two left-handed hitting infielders in Brandon Crawford and Nick Noonan, and a switch hitter in Tony Abreu. That’s because in addition to Sandoval, Joaquin Arias’ sore hamstring is likely to need at least a couple more days.
I hadn’t been down to lower Manhattan since the summer of 2001, when I stayed at a hotel in between the twin towers. I still have a pen from that hotel in a drawer somewhere. I’ve moved six times in the last decade, pared down my possessions. I kept that pen.
Well, I finally took the subway down there Friday morning. Went to Wall Street and gazed upon a small plaza wondrously crowded with hundreds upon hundreds of yellow dots – flocks of helmeted construction workers tucking into their lunch. I pushed past throngs of tourists taking pictures of the George Washington statue in front of the Federal House, where the first U.S. Congress passed the Bill of Rights, then walked inside to find the building itself totally empty. It was just me and the Washington Bible, upon which our first president swore our country’s first oath of office. Then I wended over to St. Paul’s chapel, the oldest structure in Manhattan, and looked at so many prayer cards and remembrances and pictures of those office workers and first responders who lost their life on Sept. 11. We know what happened. Looking into their eyes made it real and raw again. Then I stepped outside and saw the gleaming Liberty Tower, and felt proud and connected and patriotic because if we Americans do anything well together, it’s rebuild.
Then, after taking the subway back to my hotel, I stopped in a coffeeshop and savored a short drink as I sat at the brass window rail. And across the street, activity drew my eye: dozens and dozens of men, light skinned and dark skinned, rolling out mats for the afternoon prayer. There was a small mosque tucked in between the costume jewelry and silk flower storefronts. It must have been full, because people spilled out onto the sidewalk, into traffic, even, to pray. One man kneeled on a sheet of cardboard. Another man didn’t have anything. The first man ripped his cardboard piece in half and offered it.
It was a moment of generosity and civility, of making the best of circumstances. I’d like to think we Americans can do that together, too.