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.”