SAN FRANCISCO — After years of using “Hell on Wheels” as his walk-up song, Buster Posey switched to a different country tune for Monday’s home opener. Seconds after it played for the first time, he was sitting in the dirt.
“I might need to change it (back),” he said Tuesday, smiling. “I’ve already thought about that, actually.”
Posey’s sense of humor is intact, as are his memories from the home opener. But after driving home Monday, he felt some fogginess. The Giants are taking no chances. Posey was placed on the concussion disabled list Tuesday afternoon and will miss at least seven days.
“Overall, I feel good,” Posey said. “I think we thought this was the smart move with me being the catcher. You never know if you’ll get (a foul tip), so we’ll take a week off and be ready to go.”
Posey’s position was one of the biggest factors in making the move. He was watched closely once before in his career after foul tips, and the Giants felt it would be several days before Posey could reasonably be cleared to catch. They had to make a move, and Tim Federowicz was added before Tuesday’s game.
Posey said he wasn’t dizzy and he didn’t feel out of it Monday. He did not feel anything jarring as he sat near the plate after getting hit by a 94 mph fastball. “I was kind of just taking inventory,” he said. He did not want to reveal all his symptoms, but he knew he didn’t feel quite right.
“When you’re dealing with the head, you have to use caution,” he said. “It’s different than the hip or knee. I feel this is the right move. I don’t take it lightly when you’re talking about the head. It’s bigger than baseball. You’ve seen some of the stuff people have dealt with late in life, and that comes into consideration.”
The Giants also considered their own history with concussions. Brandon Belt returned too soon in 2014 and ended up missing 34 more games when he was put on the DL a second time. Joe Panik played after getting drilled last season and he soon ended up sidelined for 23 games. Posey has spoken to both players about their experiences.
“Whenever there are symptoms you have to take a step back,” general manager Bobby Evans said. “Exercising caution is a good thing. We went through the protocol this morning and late in the morning and there were symptoms there. That’s part of what you come to expect (after a hit to the head). There’s no need to put him at further risk.”
The Giants will be without Posey for the rest of the homestand, but there’s a chance an American League trip could get him back earlier than otherwise expected. The Giants visit Kansas City next Tuesday and Wednesday and manager Bruce Bochy said it’s possible Posey could DH during those games. With a travel day Thursday, Posey wouldn’t be needed to catch until Friday at Coors Field.
Of course, nothing can be known definitively until later in the process. Posey said he will be patient and the Giants have specialists ready to help with the timeline. They will not rush their most important position player back onto the field, and Posey said he would take a couple of full days off before getting his heart rate back up.
In the meantime, Nick Hundley is the starting catcher. The Giants brought him in for exactly this reason, to give Posey an experienced backup after years of going with young second catchers. Bochy trusts Federowicz, too. The non-roster invitee had a big spring and he has 106 games of big league experience.
“(Hundley) is a pro and he’s not going to try to be Buster, but we have a really good guy to step in while Buster is gone,” Bochy said. “You’re going to miss Buster. He’s one of your guys, he’s your guy. But it’s good to have this depth. I think, in the meantime, we’ll be able to hold our ground.”
Hundley walked up to Bochy during the game Monday and joked, “it’s about time you hit me cleanup.” For now, Brandon Crawford will take over the responsibility. For however long Posey is out, the Giants will simply need more up and down the lineup. They went on to win Monday, getting a measure of revenge on Taijuan Walker, who said publicly that he felt awful about the way the play went down.
“I never thought he was trying to hit me,” Posey said. “I mean, it’s a bad miss … but I never thought he was trying to hit me.”