Posey won't start blocking the plate in postseason, etc.


Posey won't start blocking the plate in postseason, etc.

SAN DIEGO Buster Poseys voice remained raspy one dayafter taking a ball off his throat, but hes in the lineup to catch MadisonBumgarner Saturday night at Petco Park.

Why is Posey killing himself down the stretch when theGiants have clinched already?

Why am I killing myself? Posey said, smiling. I'm notdoing it on purpose.

There is no questioning Poseys toughness after he shook offa pregame stomach ailment, remained in the game following the scary ball offhis larynx, caught all nine innings and also hustled on two extra-base hits towiden his lead in the NL batting race.

But when it comes to plays at the plate, Posey isntbudging. Asked if he would position himself less conservatively in theplayoffs, even blocking the dish when necessary, the probable NL MVP said hewouldnt change what hes done in the regular season.

I dont think you change something youve been doing allyear, Posey told me. Id say no.

And I didnt Ive never sat in front of the plate. Ididnt do that before I got hurt. So it wouldnt be normal for me to startdoing that, blocking like that.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy is just fine with that, too.

We dont want to change anything about how we play the gamein the playoffs, Bochy told me. We want these guys to play the game hard andright, and Buster makes a great point. Hes got to do what is comfortable.

Even before his season-ending collision at the plate on May25 last season, Bochy had forbidden Posey from blocking the plate. It made nodifference that night against the Florida Marlins, when the throw from rightfield beat baserunner Scott Cousins to the plate and he delivered a targeted,shoulder-to-shoulder hit that bowled over Posey, fracturing his leg and rippingthree ankle ligaments.

RELATED: Posey loses voice but not ground in batting race

During the spring, Bochy and bullpen catcher Bill Hayesworked with Posey on positioning in fair territory and reaching back to makeswipe tags. Its something Posey did in the past, but he has been even moreconservative with his positioning this season. A handful of runs might havebeen prevented if Posey had set himself up nearer to the dish.

Its been an adjustment, and not so much on Busters partas much as for the rest of us, Bochy said. Sure, a couple times he said hegot distracted where he was and got out in front a little more. But we saw whatlife was like without him. Its risk vs. reward.

And you know, that play, you dont get a lot of em. Youcan practice it, but its still so hard to simulate a play like that.

They do happen, though and as J.T. Snow and PudgeRodriguez can attest, sometimes they happen with the outcome of a postseasonseries hanging in the balance. The Giants won 100 regular-season games in 2003only to get bounced in the first round when Rodriguez held onto the ball afterSnow plowed into him.

Backup catcher Hector Sanchez has saved more than a coupleof runs this season while blocking the plate, too.

None of this is to suggest that Posey is incapable ofplaying his position. In fact, just last week, he made a terrific pickup ofshortstop Brandon Crawfords relay throw and applied a deft tag.

The throw will take you from certain spots, Posey said. Themain thing is to stay light on your feet and try to be in the best position youcan.

Posey said other than his voice, he felt fine and saw noreason to sit out Saturdays game. Its his last opportunity to catch Bumgarnerbefore theyd work together in the postseason. (Game 2 remains the best guess.)

He said he was in discomfort for roughly three innings aftertaking the ball to the throat. He also showed that his sense of humor is inbetter shape than his voice.

Asked if he had any trouble breathing after the impact, hesmiled and said, I dont believe I wouldve stayed in if I couldnt breathe.

Xavier Nady is getting another start in left field against aleft-handed pitcher. Not only did he take some good swings Friday night anddemonstrate an improved hamstring while hitting his first triple since 2008,but he also made a nice catch on left field after going back aggressively onthe ball.

Happy birthday to Giants third base coach Tim Flannery. Idont know many 55-year-olds who can scamper down the line like he can.

With new posting system reportedly agreed to, Giants can soon chase Ohtani


With new posting system reportedly agreed to, Giants can soon chase Ohtani

SAN FRANCISCO -- As the Giants continue to wait for a resolution to the Giancarlo Stanton chase, they may soon find themselves bidding on another superstar talent they have long coveted. 

According to multiple reports, Major League Baseball, the Players Association, and the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization agreed to a new posting system that should allow Shohei Ohtani to be made available in about 10 days. Joel Sherman of the NY Post reported that MLB owners must ratify the agreement next Friday and Ohtani would then be posted that day or the following day. 

The Giants have made no secret of their desire to jump feet-first into that process, and general manager Bobby Evans and assistant GM Jeremy Shelley visited Japan in September to scout Ohtani, a potential two-way star. Ohtani wants to be a starter and a hitter in the big leagues, as he was in Japan, and after watching tape of the 23-year-old, Bruce Bochy said he would be on board. 

"He's good," Bochy said after a game at Dodger Stadium late in the season. "I absolutely would play him every day."

There has been little clarity over the past two months as MLB teams have waited for the negotiations to play out. Per Sherman, there will be new posting rules in future years but Ohtani will operate under the old system. That limits the Giants to a $300,000 bonus because they went over their spending limit in 2015, but club officials don't believe that will disqualify them. Very little is known about Ohtani's preferences, but by coming to the United States in 2017, he is potentially forfeiting a $200 million deal as a free agent. That alone is enough to validate the fact that the Giants can safely chase Ohtani, knowing that the signing bonus won't be a deal breaker.

MLB crushes Braves with sanctions for international signing infractions


MLB crushes Braves with sanctions for international signing infractions

ATLANTA -- The Braves lost 13 prospects and former general manager John Coppolella was banned for life by Major League Baseball on Tuesday for circumventing international signing rules from 2015-17.

Former Atlanta special assistant Gordon Blakeley, who was the team's international scouting chief, was suspended from baseball for one year by Commissioner Rob Manfred.

Sanctions imposed by Manfred will leave the Braves unable to bargain at full strength for a top Latin American prospect until 2021.

Manfred said MLB's investigation determined the Braves moved international signing bonus pool money from one player to boost another player's contract.

Most notable among the players the Braves will lose is Kevin Maitan, an infielder from Venezuela who signed for $4.25 million in 2016.

Other "high-value" players the Braves will lose include Juan Contreras, Yefri del Rosario, Abrahan Gutierrez, Juan Carlos Negret, Yenci Pena, Yunior Severino, Livan Soto and Guillermo Zuniga.

Three more international signees - Brandol Mezquita, Angel Rojas and Antonio Sucre - were declared free agents. The team's contract with prospect Ji-Hwan Bae, which was not yet final, was disapproved. Finally, the Braves were banned from signing prospect Robert Puason in the 2019-20 signing period.

The 13 players will be free to negotiate as free agents with other teams.

Also, the Braves will forfeit their third-round selection in the 2018 draft as punishment for offering "impermissible benefits" to an unnamed draft pick in an effort to convince him to sign for a lower bonus.

The investigation showed the players signed by the Braves in 2016-17 would have been unavailable if the team had not circumvented the rules by moving bonus pool money.

Manfred said stripping the Braves of the 13 players was not sufficient punishment. He said "additional sanctions are warranted to penalize the club for the violations committed by its employees."

Therefore, the Braves will be prohibited from signing any international player for more than $10,000 during the 2019-20 signing period. Also, the team's international signing bonus pool for the 2020-21 signing period will be reduced by 50 percent.

The Braves already cannot give an international signing bonus of more than $300,000 for 2017-18 and 2018-19 as penalties for exceeding their signing bonus pools under baseball's previous labor contract.

And there is still more discipline to be handed down.

Manfred said he intends "to discipline other Braves international baseball operations employees who participated in the misconduct."

Coppolella was forced to resign after the season. Former team president John Hart was moved to a senior adviser role when a new general manager, Alex Anthopoulos, was hired on Nov. 13. Hart left the team on Friday.

"The senior baseball operations officials responsible for the misconduct are no longer employed by the Braves," Manfred said. He also said the Braves "cooperated throughout the investigation."

Coppolella did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

The Braves braced fans for the sanctions when team chairman Terry McGuirk apologized to fans "on behalf of the entire Braves family" for the rules violations at the news conference to introduce Anthopoulos.

The Braves said in a statement released Tuesday they "understand and accept the decision regarding the penalties that have been handed down.

"As we expressed last week, our organization has not lived up to the standard our fans expect from us and that we expect from ourselves. For that, we apologize. We are instituting the changes necessary to prevent this from ever happening again and remain excited about the future of Braves baseball."

Manfred said he is confident the Braves management team led by McGuirk, Anthopoulos and vice chairman John Schuerholz "have and will put in place procedures to ensure that this type of conduct never occurs again and which will allow the club to emerge from this difficult period as the strong and respected franchise that it has always been."

The Braves are not the first team to be found guilty of violating rules in signing international players.

In 2016, the Boston Red Sox lost five players and were banned from signing international amateur free agents for one year as punishment for rules violations on signing bonuses.