After Posey feels symptoms, Giants make 'smart move' to put him on DL

After Posey feels symptoms, Giants make 'smart move' to put him on DL

SAN FRANCISCO — After years of using “Hell on Wheels” as his walk-up song, Buster Posey switched to a different country tune for Monday’s home opener. Seconds after it played for the first time, he was sitting in the dirt. 

“I might need to change it (back),” he said Tuesday, smiling. “I’ve already thought about that, actually.”

Posey’s sense of humor is intact, as are his memories from the home opener. But after driving home Monday, he felt some fogginess. The Giants are taking no chances. Posey was placed on the concussion disabled list Tuesday afternoon and will miss at least seven days. 

“Overall, I feel good,” Posey said. “I think we thought this was the smart move with me being the catcher. You never know if you’ll get (a foul tip), so we’ll take a week off and be ready to go.”

Posey’s position was one of the biggest factors in making the move. He was watched closely once before in his career after foul tips, and the Giants felt it would be several days before Posey could reasonably be cleared to catch. They had to make a move, and Tim Federowicz was added before Tuesday’s game. 

Posey said he wasn’t dizzy and he didn’t feel out of it Monday. He did not feel anything jarring as he sat near the plate after getting hit by a 94 mph fastball. “I was kind of just taking inventory,” he said. He did not want to reveal all his symptoms, but he knew he didn’t feel quite right. 

“When you’re dealing with the head, you have to use caution,” he said. “It’s different than the hip or knee. I feel this is the right move. I don’t take it lightly when you’re talking about the head. It’s bigger than baseball. You’ve seen some of the stuff people have dealt with late in life, and that comes into consideration.”

The Giants also considered their own history with concussions. Brandon Belt returned too soon in 2014 and ended up missing 34 more games when he was put on the DL a second time. Joe Panik played after getting drilled last season and he soon ended up sidelined for 23 games. Posey has spoken to both players about their experiences. 

“Whenever there are symptoms you have to take a step back,” general manager Bobby Evans said. “Exercising caution is a good thing. We went through the protocol this morning and late in the morning and there were symptoms there. That’s part of what you come to expect (after a hit to the head). There’s no need to put him at further risk.”

The Giants will be without Posey for the rest of the homestand, but there’s a chance an American League trip could get him back earlier than otherwise expected. The Giants visit Kansas City next Tuesday and Wednesday and manager Bruce Bochy said it’s possible Posey could DH during those games. With a travel day Thursday, Posey wouldn’t be needed to catch until Friday at Coors Field. 

Of course, nothing can be known definitively until later in the process. Posey said he will be patient and the Giants have specialists ready to help with the timeline. They will not rush their most important position player back onto the field, and Posey said he would take a couple of full days off before getting his heart rate back up. 

In the meantime, Nick Hundley is the starting catcher. The Giants brought him in for exactly this reason, to give Posey an experienced backup after years of going with young second catchers. Bochy trusts Federowicz, too. The non-roster invitee had a big spring and he has 106 games of big league experience. 

“(Hundley) is a pro and he’s not going to try to be Buster, but we have a really good guy to step in while Buster is gone,” Bochy said. “You’re going to miss Buster. He’s one of your guys, he’s your guy. But it’s good to have this depth. I think, in the meantime, we’ll be able to hold our ground.”

Hundley walked up to Bochy during the game Monday and joked, “it’s about time you hit me cleanup.” For now, Brandon Crawford will take over the responsibility. For however long Posey is out, the Giants will simply need more up and down the lineup. They went on to win Monday, getting a measure of revenge on Taijuan Walker, who said publicly that he felt awful about the way the play went down.

“I never thought he was trying to hit me,” Posey said. “I mean, it’s a bad miss … but I never thought he was trying to hit me.”


Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

PEORIA — Jeff Samardzija spent a couple minutes after Thursday’s start talking to reporters about how deep he thinks the Giants lineup can be. It’ll be a hell of a lot deeper if Hunter Pence keeps hitting like this. 

After a slow start to the spring, Pence is charging. He had three hits against the Padres: a triple that bounced off the top of the wall in right-center, a hard single up the middle, and a double to center. The more encouraging plays for the Giants happened in left field. Pence chased down a drive to the line in the third inning, leaving the bases loaded. He opened the fourth by going the other direction and gloving a fly ball to left-center. 

"A good game for Hunter, both ways," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's getting more comfortable out there. You can see it with the jumps he's getting right now. It takes a little while when you change positions, but I think he's going to be fine out there."

The Giants appear set to have Austin Jackson and Pence atop the lineup against left-handed starters, and that duo could see plenty of time early. Seven of the first nine games are against the Dodgers, who have four lefty starters. 

--- Evan Longoria had a double off the right-center wall on Wednesday after missing a week with a sore ankle. He had a single the same way in his second at-bat Thursday. More than the at-bats, Longoria has impressed with his soft hands and steady arm at third. The ankle looks fine, too. 

“My ankle feels pretty good,” Longoria said. “I don’t think it’s going to be an issue going forward.”

--- It’s been a quiet spring for Andrew McCutchen, but we saw the wheels tonight. McCutchen easily stole second after a two-run single in the fifth. When Evan Longoria bounced one to the left side, shortstop Freddy Galvis tried to go to third for the lead out, but McCutchen beat that throw, too. He got up and put his hands on his hips, as if to say, "Why'd you even try that?"

--- Samardzija allowed three homers in a six-batter span in the third. He allowed three homers in an inning in his previous start, too, but he said he’s not concerned. Samardzija deemed it a sequencing issue. He’s working in a new changeup and threw it in situations he normally wouldn’t; Eric Hosmer took advantage of a floating one, crushing it to deep, deep right for the third homer. 

--- With a runner on, Brandon Belt put down a perfect bunt to foil the shift. Belt does that every spring, particularly against NL West teams, but rarely during the regular season. Maybe this will be the year?

Belt later crushed a homer to deep right. That had to feel good for a number of reasons. Belt is fighting a cold and he learned earlier in the day that his college coach, Augie Garrido, had passed away.

Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential


Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For most pitchers, spring training is a time to experiment and add a pitch or two. Josh Osich is using this month to go the other direction. 

Osich spent the offseason watching film of his 2015 season, when he looked like he might one day be the closer in San Francisco, and decided that he needed to get back to his roots. That means the curveball, which he tried so hard to mix in last year, is now far back in the cupboard. The four-seam and two-seam fastballs are once again the focus, with an emphasis on changing eye levels more than he did a year ago. The changeup and cutter will round out his arsenal for the most part. 

Osich’s raw stuff is still as good as just about any lefty reliever in the league, and he hopes to take advantage of that while putting a rough 2017 season in his rearview mirror. He had a 6.23 ERA last season and 1.73 WHIP.

“It’s just one of those learning years,” Osich said. “I tried to live at the bottom of the zone and I was, but I was actually below the zone. So then I would fall behind and need to throw a strike and that’s when guys would hit me.”

Osich, 29, had a 2.20 ERA and 1.12 WHIP during that 2015 season that he keeps going back to. He walked eight batters in 28 2/3 innings, a far cry from the 27 he walked in 43 1/3 last year. While watching the 2015 version of himself, Osich saw that his hands were higher, and that’s something he’s working to replicate. He’s also trying to slow his pace to the plate. So far, the results are nothing but encouraging. Osich allowed one hit and struck out one in a 2 1/3 inning appearance on Wednesday night. Manager Bruce Bochy let him extend himself to keep the good vibes going. 

In six appearances this spring, Osich has allowed just four hits over seven scoreless innings. He has seven strikeouts and one walk. 

“O, it just seems like he’s got confidence,” Bochy said. “He’s kept it simple, he’s not tinkering with different pitches. He’s throwing more strikes, and more than anything he’s just trying to pound the strike zone now with quality strikes. That’s all he has to do. You look at him and he’s hitting 95 with a couple of good off-speed pitches. That works here.”