Giants

Bochy renews plate-blocking ban on Posey

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Bochy renews plate-blocking ban on Posey

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Bruce Bochy has forbidden Buster Posey from blocking the plate. The Giants manager confirmed it on Sunday, and much will be made of that decision.But here is one more vital scrap of information: Posey was under the same order the night that Floridas Scott Cousins speared him like a tackling dummy.Bochy and other Giants officials had sat down Posey for that lets be smart about this conversation 10 months before the May 25 game in which he sustained three ripped ankle ligaments and a fractured bone in his leg.The Giants already knew the risk involved with putting their best offensive player in a chest protector. They saw what happened in August, 2010, when the Cleveland Indians lost promising rookie Carlos Santana to a torn knee ligament in a collision at the plate. Shortly after that, Bochy sat down Posey and told him that saving one run wasnt worth the risk.And besides, as Posey rehashed the Cousins play during his meeting with reporters on Sunday, I want to make it clear I wasn't blocking the plate to begin with.

That's the dicey part I guess, is figuring where you've got to be to somewhat avoid that, Posey continued. I have to be instinctual, that's the way I play the game. I try to play off instincts. Some of those instincts come off your preparation and that's why we're going to put in a lot of work this spring.But even the most thorough preparation cannot protect a catcher who is receiving the ball from one direction and absorbing a full-speed, 200-pound baserunner from the other. There is inherent risk everywhere on a baseball diamond, and no place is dicier than behind the plate.Perhaps the greater question isnt whether Posey should block the plate, but whether he should be back there at all.Candidly and surprisingly, Posey said he has asked himself the same question.I'm not going to lie, he said. There were some thoughts a couple of months after, well, maybe it wouldn't be bad to move. But then the more I thought about it, I realized how much I enjoy catching. As hard as I'm going to work and have worked and am going to continue to work to get back behind the plate, I want to catch for as long as I possibly can.Youd better believe the Giants will have some things to say about that, too.There is going to come a point when we will certainly discuss whether its the right thing to make a move, Bochy said. Right now, hes our catcher.The smart money is that Posey wont be a catcher for long beyond 2012. Bochy probably tipped his hand while lauding the stockpile of catchers in the system: A group that includes Tommy Joseph, Andrew Susac and Hector Sanchez.We have some good young catchers in camp the best Ive ever seen, Bochy said.Sanchez is the closest to the big leagues after a monster winter in Venezuela. Susac is highly regarded after being taken as a sophomore out of Oregon State (by way of Jesuit High in Sacramento) in the draft last year. Joseph has the highest ceiling, given the huge strides he made behind the plate in the Cal League last season (he led the circuit in caught-stealing percentage) and the fact his bat played in High A ball as a 20-year-old.As for the here and now, Bochy liked what he saw from Posey during Sundays workout.Blocking balls, theres no hesitation getting up, Bochy said. He looks like hes over it. Hes healed. Now, having said that, hes still got a long way to go, catching innings and seeing how hell react. But for now, hes doing great.If theres any question, its how much we can catch him.For that reason, the Giants are staying open-minded to carrying a third catcher. The current leaning is to carry two. (That decision would be easier if Pablo Sandoval could serve as a very occasional third catcher, but he made it very, very clear that he wont have that conversation with the coaching staff.)RELATED: Sandoval -- 'I don't want to catch'
Bochy said he was glad to see Posey using the two-piece mask instead of the hockey-style helmet he had used in previous years. Concussions are a big part of that added risk behind the plate ask Mike Matheny about that and Bochy always thought the two-piece mask absorbed and distributed force more effectively.According to the studies, theyre the same, Bochy said. But I always said the older mask protected you more.One other note: Posey said he is going to leave discussion of a rule change to the people who makes those decisions. He isnt going to lobby for an amendment to protect catchers.But Bochy isnt going to set down his megaphone on this subject.He got resistance last year from Joe Torre when he was MLBs chief of on-field operations. But Torre stepped down and the league hasnt named a replacement.If its Tony LaRussa, then Bochy should be able to gain more traction on a rule change. LaRussa was receptive to the idea when Bochy discussed it with him last year. Several other managers also feel the issue merits more discussion, Bochy said.Bochy said hed continue his grass-roots efforts to gain consensus with his fellow managers on this topic.

Crawford does the heavy lifting, and the little things, in Giants win

Crawford does the heavy lifting, and the little things, in Giants win

SAN FRANCISCO — Quietly, Brandon Crawford spent much of his day saving teammates.

When Nick Hundley’s throw down to second in the fifth inning drifted, Crawford deftly moved a few feet off the bag, grabbed the ball and placed a nifty tag down on Manuel Margot to erase a runner in scoring position. In the seventh, Pablo Sandoval had trouble finding a two-out pop-up into the midday sun. Crawford, his glove shielding his eyes, kept creeping and creeping until he was standing in Sandoval’s place at third, and he gloved the ball to end the inning. An inning later, Tony Watson got what looked like a double-play ball back to the mound, but his throw to second was low. Crawford did well to scoop it, getting the lead runner out on a force play. 

Then there were the contributions that were impossible to miss. 

Crawford broke an 0-for-18 mini-skid with a scorched triple off the wall in the fourth inning. That brought Andrew McCutchen home with the game-tying run. Two innings later, the likely All-Star starter went the opposite way for a two-run double that would hold up in a 5-3 win over San Diego. 

On many days, Crawford might weigh the offensive and defensive contributions equally. But when you’re riding a mini slump … 

“I always want to make plays out there for sure, but when you’re 0-for…I don’t even know, I’m not going to lie, the triple and doubles felt better today,” he said, smiling. 

They were sorely needed, too. The Giants were caught off-guard when Jordan Lyles was a late scratch with elbow tightness, and they struggled against hard-throwing lefty Matt Strahm until Crawford broke through. He said he had seen signs in recent days that his swing from May and early June was returning.

“You just know him. You know it’s a matter of time,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “What a great game, and we needed it. We needed someone to come through. This guy was throwing well…when you’re in a game like this you need someone to deliver and Craw did it.”

The contributions backed Andrew Suarez, who continues to get better and better and show signs of his maturity on the mound. Suarez discovered early that his slider had abandoned him, so he teamed up with catcher Nick Hundley to go sinker-changeup heavy. That led to three double plays in the first four innings. 

Crawford was in the middle of those, and so much that went right on this day. But he’s a bit of a perfectionist, and the ending of this one stuck with him. Crawford was one of three Giants who couldn’t get under a high pop-up to center in the ninth that dropped for a sun-aided double. His throwing error on a tough roller led to some anxiety as the Padres tried to come back. 

“It’s frustrating, I’m not going to lie,” he said. “I’ve always said I try to not take at-bats to defense of defense to at-bats. I try to separate things. Obviously I want to go 3-for-3 any day but I wanted to make those plays.”

They were minor blips on a day that otherwise showed all the reasons why Crawford very likely will be starting for the National League All-Star team next month, and they won’t cost him any sleep. Not during a week when his wife gave birth to the couple’s fourth child, a second Crawford son. 

“A little tiring for a couple of days,” Crawford said of his week, “But they’re still in Arizona, so I’m getting good sleep right now.”

Crawford's big day paves the way for Giants in win vs Padres

Crawford's big day paves the way for Giants in win vs Padres

SAN FRANCISCO — Padres starter Jordan Lyles was a late scratch Saturday because he felt the dreaded forearm tightness while warming up. The change happened so late that nobody even knew about the injury until lefty reliever Matt Sarah started warming up in the top of the first inning.

The Giants faced a steady stream of relievers, but that didn’t mess with Brandon Crawford. In his third game back from paternity leave, Crawford drove in the first three Giants runs in a 5-3 win over the Padres. The Giants have taken two of three in this series and four of six on the homestand.

--- Crawford sat in the high .330s with his batting average on the last road trip, but he was hitless in 18 at-bats when he strolled to the plate in the fourth. He smoked a triple off the wall, scoring Andrew McCutchen. The triple was Crawford’s second of the season. He was stranded on third. Crawford’s two-run double in the sixth put the Giants on top for good. 

--- Andrew Suarez did a nice job before being lifted with two on and two outs in the sixth. He scattered eight hits, getting out of trouble by inducing three double plays in the first four innings. Suarez was at just 76 pitches when Bruce Bochy came out and called for Reyes Moronta, who immediately gave up a rocket to center field. Gorkys Hernandez was there, making a running catch to end the inning. 

--- Reyes Moronta threw a 99 mph fastball to A.J. Ellis in the seventh inning that was the fastest pitch by a Giant this season. Moronta, of course, held the previous high, at 98.9 mph. 

--- In his return to the big leagues, Austin Slater got robbed of a double, but still got a sacrifice fly. He became the first Giants outfielder to drive in a run as a pinch-hitter this season. Really. 

--- File this one away for Sunday: Phil Maton came up-and-in on Andrew McCutchen and then hit him with the next pitch. McCutchen popped up with his arms outstretched, but then calmly took his base.