Posey after scare in home opener: 'I feel good'

Posey after scare in home opener: 'I feel good'

SAN FRANCISCO — Buster Posey walked out of AT&T Park an hour after the final pitch Monday, looking as he always does.

"I feel good," he told NBC Sports Bay Area. "See you tomorrow."

The Giants have learned in recent years that the initial reaction to a blow to the head is sometimes deceiving, but the first read on Posey was that he will be fine. The catcher took a 94 mph Taijuan Walker fastball to the helmet in the first inning Monday and was immediately removed, but he passed a concussion test. 

"He's doing good. He's doing fine," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We'll keep an eye on him. He had no complaints or anything. Right now, he's doing well. Our doctors were here and they checked him out pretty good."

The Giants took no chances when Posey went down. He sat back, waiting for trainer Dave Groeschner and Bochy, as teammates and fans cringed at the thud they had heard. Groeschner pulled Posey and took him right to the clubhouse. Bochy said that the situation might have been different if Posey played a different position.

"He was hit in the head and he's a catcher, so now he's even more at risk," Bochy said. "If he's catching and he takes a foul tip, he's even more at risk. We didn't want to risk that."

Nick Hundley replaced Posey behind the plate. Teammates who went back to check on Posey said he looked and acted fine, and Posey noted that he was expecting symptoms that never came. 

The Giants might know better than any other MLB team that the days after a hit to the head are more instructive. Brandon Belt, Hector Sanchez and Joe Panik are among the Giants who have been concussed in recent years. Panik got hit by a Matt Moore pitch last June 18 and played for over a week. When he realized he wasn't right, he ultimately missed 23 games with a concussion.

"He seems fine, and he said he felt fine, which is good," said Brandon Crawford, one of Posey's closest friends. "But Joe thought he felt good last year, also. You hope he feels fine tomorrow when he comes in. He'll probably get his heart rate going and see how he feels and you go from there."

Giants doctors will continue to check with Posey overnight, and he isn't expected to play Tuesday. Hundley has a good rapport with the staff and he helped guide Moore through eight sharp innings in a 4-1 win. Late in the game, Moore hit David Peralta on the arm. Players and coaches quietly grumbled after the game that Walker, who has command issues, should not have been trying to go inside so often. He almost hit Jarrett Parker high, too, but Moore said there was no retaliation. 

"In a three-run game in the eighth?" he said. "I don't think so."

The Giants did not plan to immediately make a roster move. Trevor Brown is the third catcher on the 40-man roster but he's sidelined by an illness after starting the season on the DL with an ankle injury. Tim Federowicz is the catcher at Triple-A but he's not on the 40-man roster, so a player would need to be removed to clear a spot.

Aaron Hill, an infielder/left fielder, is the emergency catcher.

"He just found out today that he's our third catcher," Bochy said, smiling. "He found out late in the game."


Jeff Samardzija to miss start of season after MRI reveals strained pectoral muscle


Jeff Samardzija to miss start of season after MRI reveals strained pectoral muscle

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants nearly left Scottsdale unscathed. Instead they'll leave with an injured No. 3 starter, but the news on Jeff Samardzija late Thursday night was good news. 

Manager Bruce Bochy told reporters that Samardzija has a strained pectoral muscle that will sideline him for the start of the season. But given that Samardzija, who has had a rough spring, went for an MRI on his shoulder a week before the season opener, team officials have to be breathing a sigh of relief. 

"He'll go a week without throwing the ball and then crank it back up," Bochy told reporters, including Kerry Crowley of the San Jose Mercury News. "It should't take long to get him back on the mound so it's good news."

Samardzija was supposed to take the ball next Saturday at Dodger Stadium. Instead, the Giants will rely on two young pitchers and a non-roster invitee at the back end of their rotation. The injury ends a three-way race for the final two spots between Chris Stratton, Ty Blach and Derek Holland. The Giants could use all three in the rotation until Samardzija is healthy, or they could skip their No. 5 starter and move one of the pitchers into the bullpen. 

Because the Giants have two off days before their seventh game, Madison Bumgarner can line up to pitch three of the first nine games. The Giants have been considering that all spring, although they have yet to publicly announce a decision one way or the other. Bumgarner said early in camp that he would be up to the challenge, and given how sharp he was all spring, that might be the best way to tread water until Samardzija is cleared to return to the rotation.

No. 79? No. 53? Before they were stars, Giants wore random numbers


No. 79? No. 53? Before they were stars, Giants wore random numbers

SCOTTSDALE — A couple of veterans walked past a clubhouse TV earlier in camp and saw that the Giants and Padres were tied heading into the bottom of the 10th of an exhibition game. The Padres infielders were just standing around, and there was not yet a new pitcher on the mound. 

“It’s that time when No. 99 comes in to pitch,” one of the players joked as he headed home for the day.

A few seconds later, a big left-hander took the mound. He was, in fact, wearing No. 99, and in his inning on the mound he would face a No. 74 (Aramis Garcia) and No. 78 (Steven Duggar). This is the norm for spring training, when dozens of players — including teenagers and journeymen still hanging around the low minors — get into every game. That leads to action between numbers you would never see in a normal game. The Giants had 60 players in camp, plus 10 coaches and staff members with numbers. Throw in their 10 retired numbers and the unofficially retired ones (25, 55, etc.) and, well, there aren’t a whole lot of choices left. 

If Duggar makes the Opening Day roster, he’ll get an upgrade from his lineman’s number. Ditto for Garcia, who could be Buster Posey’s backup as soon as next season. Still, a taste of big league action doesn’t guarantee a normal number in camp, when young players regularly find themselves back at the end of the line. 

Ryder Jones wore 83 in camp last year and 63 in the big leagues. When he showed up this year, with 150 big league at-bats under his belt, he was told that he would have to wait until the end of the spring to upgrade. Players with more service time (think No. 2 Chase d’Arnaud or No. 19 Josh Rutledge) get priority, at least until all the cuts are made. Jones said he has a few numbers in mind for his next stint in the big leagues, but he won’t be picky. 

“Anything under 40 works,” he said, smiling. 

The steady climb toward single digits happens to just about everybody. Long before Brandon Crawford’s became @bcraw35, he wore 79 in his first camp. He moved up to 53 after that and Mike Murphy flipped that to 35 when Crawford became the big league shortstop. Hunter Pence doesn’t remember his first spring training number with the Astros, but he knows it was in the low eighties. Joe Panik wore 66 the first time he spent a spring at Scottsdale Stadium. “I was an offensive lineman,” he joked. Tyler Beede, now on the cusp of his big league debut, got promoted from 63 to 32 when he arrived last spring, only to swap to 38 this year because of some in-season shifting. When Pablo Sandoval arrived last summer, Steven Okert switched from 48 to 32.

Then there are those who have only known one jersey. Posey was a can’t-miss prospect when he arrived and doesn’t remember wearing anything other than 28. Brandon Belt was a top-25 prospect when he came to camp for the first time, and he’s been 9 since that day. Madison Bumgarner wore 40 in his first big league camp because he had already made his big league debut, but somewhere in the team archives, there are probably a few photos of a 19-year-old Bumgarner wearing something else. 

“The previous spring I came up to pitch a few times,” Bumgarner said. “I’m pretty sure I had a different number every time I came over and I’m pretty sure it was always in the eighties.”

There were seven Giants in the eighties this spring. Duggar was one of two top prospects — Chris Shaw inherited Crawford’s old 79 — to come close, and he didn’t mind one bit. He’s not thinking too far ahead, even though he could be a big leaguer in eight days. 

“I’ll take anything if I’m in the big leagues,” he said. “I’ll take No. 112 if that’s what they give me.”