Giants

Bochy renews plate-blocking ban on Posey

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Bochy renews plate-blocking ban on Posey

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Bruce Bochy has forbidden Buster Posey from blocking the plate. The Giants manager confirmed it on Sunday, and much will be made of that decision.But here is one more vital scrap of information: Posey was under the same order the night that Floridas Scott Cousins speared him like a tackling dummy.Bochy and other Giants officials had sat down Posey for that lets be smart about this conversation 10 months before the May 25 game in which he sustained three ripped ankle ligaments and a fractured bone in his leg.The Giants already knew the risk involved with putting their best offensive player in a chest protector. They saw what happened in August, 2010, when the Cleveland Indians lost promising rookie Carlos Santana to a torn knee ligament in a collision at the plate. Shortly after that, Bochy sat down Posey and told him that saving one run wasnt worth the risk.And besides, as Posey rehashed the Cousins play during his meeting with reporters on Sunday, I want to make it clear I wasn't blocking the plate to begin with.

That's the dicey part I guess, is figuring where you've got to be to somewhat avoid that, Posey continued. I have to be instinctual, that's the way I play the game. I try to play off instincts. Some of those instincts come off your preparation and that's why we're going to put in a lot of work this spring.But even the most thorough preparation cannot protect a catcher who is receiving the ball from one direction and absorbing a full-speed, 200-pound baserunner from the other. There is inherent risk everywhere on a baseball diamond, and no place is dicier than behind the plate.Perhaps the greater question isnt whether Posey should block the plate, but whether he should be back there at all.Candidly and surprisingly, Posey said he has asked himself the same question.I'm not going to lie, he said. There were some thoughts a couple of months after, well, maybe it wouldn't be bad to move. But then the more I thought about it, I realized how much I enjoy catching. As hard as I'm going to work and have worked and am going to continue to work to get back behind the plate, I want to catch for as long as I possibly can.Youd better believe the Giants will have some things to say about that, too.There is going to come a point when we will certainly discuss whether its the right thing to make a move, Bochy said. Right now, hes our catcher.The smart money is that Posey wont be a catcher for long beyond 2012. Bochy probably tipped his hand while lauding the stockpile of catchers in the system: A group that includes Tommy Joseph, Andrew Susac and Hector Sanchez.We have some good young catchers in camp the best Ive ever seen, Bochy said.Sanchez is the closest to the big leagues after a monster winter in Venezuela. Susac is highly regarded after being taken as a sophomore out of Oregon State (by way of Jesuit High in Sacramento) in the draft last year. Joseph has the highest ceiling, given the huge strides he made behind the plate in the Cal League last season (he led the circuit in caught-stealing percentage) and the fact his bat played in High A ball as a 20-year-old.As for the here and now, Bochy liked what he saw from Posey during Sundays workout.Blocking balls, theres no hesitation getting up, Bochy said. He looks like hes over it. Hes healed. Now, having said that, hes still got a long way to go, catching innings and seeing how hell react. But for now, hes doing great.If theres any question, its how much we can catch him.For that reason, the Giants are staying open-minded to carrying a third catcher. The current leaning is to carry two. (That decision would be easier if Pablo Sandoval could serve as a very occasional third catcher, but he made it very, very clear that he wont have that conversation with the coaching staff.)RELATED: Sandoval -- 'I don't want to catch'
Bochy said he was glad to see Posey using the two-piece mask instead of the hockey-style helmet he had used in previous years. Concussions are a big part of that added risk behind the plate ask Mike Matheny about that and Bochy always thought the two-piece mask absorbed and distributed force more effectively.According to the studies, theyre the same, Bochy said. But I always said the older mask protected you more.One other note: Posey said he is going to leave discussion of a rule change to the people who makes those decisions. He isnt going to lobby for an amendment to protect catchers.But Bochy isnt going to set down his megaphone on this subject.He got resistance last year from Joe Torre when he was MLBs chief of on-field operations. But Torre stepped down and the league hasnt named a replacement.If its Tony LaRussa, then Bochy should be able to gain more traction on a rule change. LaRussa was receptive to the idea when Bochy discussed it with him last year. Several other managers also feel the issue merits more discussion, Bochy said.Bochy said hed continue his grass-roots efforts to gain consensus with his fellow managers on this topic.

Report: Tim Lincecum throws 90-93 MPH at showcase

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AP

Report: Tim Lincecum throws 90-93 MPH at showcase

Tim Lincecum was back on a mound Thursday, trying to prove to teams once again that he still has a little bit of magic left in his right arm. 

The former Giants star held a bullpen session for scouts Thursday in Seattle. The event was closed to the media, but Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that between 25 and 30 scouts were in attendance. 

And Lincecum may have some of his velocity back. According to Heyman, Lincecum was sitting between 90 and 93 miles per hour. 

Lincecum last pitched in 2016 with the Angels. In that season, his fastball averaged just 88.4 miles per hour. In nine starts with the Angels, Lincecum was nowhere near what he once was and went 2-6 with a 9.16 ERA. 

The Giants planned to be at Lincecum's showcase, according to Insider Alex Pavlovic. 

Over nine seasons with the Giants, Lincecum posted a 108-83 record and a 3.61 ERA. He won back-to-back National Cy Young awards in 2008 and 2009, was a four-time All-Star and led the league in strikeouts three times. 

Slater fighting for outfield job after Giants' offseason overhaul

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USATSI

Slater fighting for outfield job after Giants' offseason overhaul

SCOTTSDALE — Catchers are usually the only position players to hit on the main field during the first few days of spring training, but Austin Slater snuck into a group Thursday to take a few cuts. With manager Bruce Bochy leaning against the back of the cage, perhaps Slater’s session will serve as a reminder: I’m still here, don’t forget about me.

The 25-year-old broke through last summer before injuries halted his progress. As Slater focused on getting healthy this offseason, Bobby Evans focused on overhauling the outfield. That has left several familiar faces in precarious spots, and Slater finds himself fighting for a fifth outfielder job a year after batting .282 in his first 117 big league at-bats. 

At the same time, he’s trying to balance competition with health. He wants to push for an Opening Day job, but also is very aware that he needs to back it down at times as he recovers from sports hernia surgery.

“You want to prove that you can play here and win a job, but (the staff) stressed health over everything,” he said. “It does no good to push and then start the season on the DL. For me, health is the most important thing. I feel like if I’m healthy I can prove myself. There’s nothing I can prove on the DL.”

Slater originally tore his groin on July 8 and the Giants thought it would prove to be a season-ending injury. He worked his way back ahead of schedule, though, seeing limited action before sports hernia surgery the last week of September. “They went in there and cleaned up the groin,” he said, smiling where others might grimace. The procedure kept Slater from playing in the Dominican Republic as planned, although that might have been a blessing in disguise. 

The Giants were aggressive with their winter ball plans because so many young players got hurt during the season. But Jarrett Parker lasted just 24 hours before being sent home with a health issue. Christian Arroyo’s hand swelled up soon after he arrived, and he headed home. Ryder Jones immediately got food poisoning and lost 12 pounds in just over three weeks before player and team decided a mutual parting would be beneficial. 

Slater stayed home throughout, living in the Bay Area and rehabbing. The Giants told him to focus on his rehab instead of lost at-bats and then come out and try to win a job in Scottsdale. By mid-November, he was hitting again. By Thanksgiving, he was on a regular lifting and running schedule. In late January, he felt like his old self again. 

For the Giants, that means a versatile option in a new-look outfield. Slater had a .290/.343/.430 slash line going before his first injury and he’s working to tap into more power. As Bruce Bochy pointed out Thursday, Slater has a long history of putting up numbers at every level. 

“He really did a nice job of figuring out what it takes to play in the major leagues, and he has a tendency throughout his career to just get better,” Bochy said. “You have to love his right-handed bat. He’s got some pop. I think he can play all three outfield positions, so he’s in the mix.”

The Giants have Andrew McCutchen in right and Hunter Pence in left and Austin Jackson as the third guy, and Bochy’s preference is to have a true center fielder as his fourth outfielder. That leaves Slater fighting for the fifth job, alongside many others. No matter what he did last year or does this spring, Slater has options remaining, and that will come into play. A year after using 13 different players in left field, the staff is intent on having greater depth at the Triple-A level. 

Slater is a Stanford product who spent the offseason surrounded by Giants fans. He knows the math after the offseason moves.

“It doesn’t change anything,” he said. “It just adds some great guys to learn from, and there are still outfield spots to be won, so it’s not discouraging, it’s encouraging. I didn’t expect them to keep an open roster spot for a guy with 120 at-bats. We’re trying to win a championship here.”