Posey thrilled by WBC experience, says he would play again in 2021

Posey thrilled by WBC experience, says he would play again in 2021

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Before he left camp on March 6, Buster Posey was telling teammates and team officials that his involvement in the World Baseball Classic was a one-and-done deal. On Friday, Posey returned to camp with a new outlook.

"It's a great tournament," Posey said. "If you were able to do it in the actual Olympics, it would be even better. I just don't know how to do that other than shutting down the season. But after playing in this tournament, I would be up for that.

"If I had a chance to do it again, I think I would. If you had asked me that three weeks ago, I would have said I don't think I would. That's how much fun I had."

Posey, Brandon Crawford and Mark Melancon were greeted by one teammate after another Friday morning, many of them fellow Americans congratulating the group on helping lead Team USA to its first WBC title. Posey and Crawford, who missed most of March, had kept in touch with teammates via text, and some who reached out said they often got the same message back: "If you have a chance to do this, don't pass it up."

Posey and Crawford will be hitting their mid 30s the next time around. It's no lock that they're still in position to play, but they made the most of their experience this month. Crawford had 10 hits and played his usual stellar defense, earring new fans who don't watch his Gold Glove on a nightly basis. Posey hit a pair of long home runs in four starts. 

Most importantly, both of them returned healthy and ready to play Friday.

"I'm ready for some Cactus League!" Posey said, laughing.

Despite being gone for nearly three weeks, Posey hasn’t actually played that much this month. He started half of Team USA’s games but he was on the bench for the title game. He said that didn’t bother him. Manager Jim Leyland talked to Posey and Jonathan Lucroy before the tournament.

“Of course, as a competitor, you want to be in that game, but Lucroy is a great catcher and he did a great job with (Marcus) Stroman and the rest of the staff,” Posey said. “You can’t go wrong with having him out there.”

Asked if there was one player he enjoyed getting to know, Posey chose Lucroy, saying he has played against him for a long time but never really gotten to know him. He noted how sharp Luke Gregerson's two-seamer was from behind the plate and said he enjoyed catching Pat Neshek and Stroman. 

Team USA grew close over the course of the month, and got better and better as the tournament wore on. Posey said the foreign fans at the early games in Miami helped get the juices flowing, and once the action moved to San Diego, there were loud American fans joining the fray. Team USA defeated the Dominican Republic to get out of that round (Posey hugged Johnny Cueto on Friday morning and chanted “USA! USA!” as he walked off) and then beat Japan in the semis.

Wednesday night’s championship came via a blowout of Puerto Rico. Posey has won at every level, but the moment was not lost on him.

“It’s cliche but there is a certain amount of pride when you have your country’s name on your chest,” he said. “It’s a vibe you get. A lot of us come from different parts of the country and you get to go out and play the game the way you played as a child. It’s America’s pastime, and it was a fun tournament and experience. That made it fun to win it.”

Giants starter Jeff Samardzija to get MRI on right shoulder


Giants starter Jeff Samardzija to get MRI on right shoulder

The Giants almost made it through spring training with no serious injuries.

But as they get set to leave Arizona for the Bay Area, Jeff Samardzija is dealing with a shoulder issue.

On Wednesday, Samardzija pitched in a minor league game. He gave up two homers, hit a batter in the fourth inning and was pulled from the game.

A day later, the Giants announced that Samardzija will undergo an MRI on his right shoulder. According to The San Francisco Chronicle, results of the MRI will be known later Thursday evening.

Samardzija's numbers in official spring training games this year are ugly. In 11 innings, he's 17 hits, 13 earned runs and six home runs.

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.”