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In every way, Buster Posey is most valuable to Giants

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In every way, Buster Posey is most valuable to Giants

SAN FRANCISCO How valuable is Buster Posey?

When he was injured and on crutches last year, Giantsmanager Bruce Bochy personally asked him to join in team meetings, and take thefloor. Even when his cleanup-hitting catcher couldnt walk, Bochy knew thatPosey could make his teammates better.

He wanted to stay involved with the club, and we wanted himto stay involved, Bochy said. Hes just a calming influence on everybody.

And a winning influence. Bochy knows it, his Giantsteammates know it, and voting members of the Baseball Writers Association ofAmerica mustve gotten wise to it when they bestowed 27 of 32 first-place voteson Posey to make him a landslide winner of the NL Most Valuable Player award onThursday.
RELATED: Buster Posey honored with NL MVP award

Just four years ago, Posey won the Johnny Bench Award as thenations top collegiate catcher. Now hes the first backstop since Bench in 1972to receive the NLs most prestigious honor.

Posey, Bench and Thurman Munson are the only catchers inhistory to win an MVP Award, a Rookie of the Year award and a World Seriesring. Posey, Willie Mays and Willie McCovey are the only Giants to accomplishthat trio of feats.

All of which makes Poseys level-headed noggin spin thetiniest bit.

To hear my name mentioned with those guys doesnt even seemreal, the 25-year-old said. Ive always been such a big fan of the game and have suchhuge respect for what hose guys accomplished. To be mentioned alongside themmeans a great deal to me.
RATTO: Posey takes the fun out of NL MVP race

Posey was speaking on a conference call from his boyhoodhome in Leesburg, Ga. Earlier in the day, he attended a fundraiser for theTransitional Learning Center, where his mother, Traci, teaches students whohave not been successful in a regular school setting due to behavior oracademic difficulties. The school serves children in Lee County who were referredby their former schools, tribunals or through the court system.

The schoolsexpectations, according to its Web site, are these three words: think, learn, consider.

Sounds like an apt summary for Poseys approach to the game,right?

He is acing all the exams. Despite playing just one full season and parts of two others, he has accomplished two World Series titles, caught a perfect game, won a SilverSlugger and a Hank Aaron Award, claimed Comeback Player of the Year honors andwon a Rookie of the Year trophy.

And now, the MVP.

He accepted it on live television from what looked like across between a chemistry lab and a polling place, and while wearing a plaidbutton-down shirt and holding onto one of his 15-month-old twins. He had his family, friends and others behind him.

He never thought of ditching the fundraiser for a more polished setting.

When I found out theres a conflict, I figured there was away we could make it work one way or another, he said. It turned out great,having more family and friends around for the announcement.

It made for a perfect backdrop. Posey, the Deans Liststudent at Florida State who treats his major league career with the sameearnest, studious drive, became the youngest NL MVP since Ryne Sandberg in1984.

Hes also the first NL MVP wholly developed by the Giantssince Willie McCovey in 1959.

When we drafted him we knew we were getting a talentedplayer, we knew what a good hitter he was, and we knew he was converting tocatcher, Bochy said. I didnt know he would become the caliber of catcherthat he is today quite so fast. We knew he was a good makeup guy, but hisprofessionalism, his handling of the staff, its amazing how good he is.

We knew we were getting a good player, I dont think anyoneknew how great he would become.

And no, Bochy did not pencil in Posey to lead the majorleagues with a .336 average, post an on-base percentage over .400 or drive in104 runs. Not after Posey couldnt put weight on his left leg for four monthslast year. Not after the heat-seeking hit at home plate on May 25, 2011, thatsnapped his leg and ruined his left ankle to the point where it required twosurgeries to repair the damage.

But team orthopedist Dr. Ken Akizuki restored the ligaments,head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner and his staff partnered with Posey todevelop an intensive rehab program and a spring full of trepidation passed without any setbacks.

Posey wasnt remiss in thanking Groeschnerand the medical staff while accepting news of the award.

Its an accomplishment that is shared with the whole Giantsorganization, and it starts at the top with great ownership and a front officewho is putting these guys on the field, Posey said. Its a great place tocome and play ball every day Weve seen the past couple years how passionateour fans are, so I couldnt be more honored to have my name among the previouswinners.

Would the Giants have three-peated if they had Posey healthy down the stretch last year? It's impossible to say. But Bochy agreed that itsreasonable to believe that they wouldve at least made it into the playoffs.

I certainly think so, Bochy said. Hes the MVP. Hesgetting his due recognition as far as being one of the elite players ever inthe game, and hes in a class with some of the greatest players in the Giantsorganization. I knew he would win and its richly deserved.

It just amazes me what he accomplished coming off thatdevastating injury. It shows you not only how talented he is but how tough heis.

Ballots were due before the playoffs began, so the Giants' six elimination victories on their way to a World Series sweep over the Detroit Tigers wasn't a factor in voting. Still, Posey was named on all 32 ballots while receiving 27first-place votes, four seconds and one third. Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun,who finished a distant second, also was named on all 32 ballots, never lowerthan fourth, and received three first-place votes. Cardinals catcher YadierMolina received the other two first-place votes and finished fourth. ThePirates Andrew McCutchen, who finished third, was the only other player namedby all 32 voters, who each submitted a 10-deep ballot.

Braun told theMilwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he supported Posey winning.

"I think Buster Posey deserved to win," Braun said. "What he was able to accomplish this year as a catcher for a team that eventually went on to win the World Series was incredible. I thought he was the best player; I though he deserved to be the MVP. He certainly is deserving of the award."

The Giants became the fourth team in major league history,and the first since the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates, to have a player win theregular-season MVP (Posey), All-Star Game MVP (Melky Cabrera) and World SeriesMVP (Pablo Sandoval) in the same season.

One of those MVPs abruptly left the scene on Aug. 15, when Cabrera wassuspended for testing positive for exogenous testosterone. But Posey only got better from there, and more valuable.

One year after he couldnt walk, Posey carried his team.

I do know I definitely have a deeper appreciation for beingable to play baseball, Posey said. Ive seen it can be taken away quick. Ihope I can continue to embrace the game and enjoy it because that was my mindsetcoming into the year: just enjoy each minute that youre out there.

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.”