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In every way, Buster Posey is most valuable to Giants

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In every way, Buster Posey is most valuable to Giants

SAN FRANCISCO How valuable is Buster Posey?

When he was injured and on crutches last year, Giantsmanager Bruce Bochy personally asked him to join in team meetings, and take thefloor. Even when his cleanup-hitting catcher couldnt walk, Bochy knew thatPosey could make his teammates better.

He wanted to stay involved with the club, and we wanted himto stay involved, Bochy said. Hes just a calming influence on everybody.

And a winning influence. Bochy knows it, his Giantsteammates know it, and voting members of the Baseball Writers Association ofAmerica mustve gotten wise to it when they bestowed 27 of 32 first-place voteson Posey to make him a landslide winner of the NL Most Valuable Player award onThursday.
RELATED: Buster Posey honored with NL MVP award

Just four years ago, Posey won the Johnny Bench Award as thenations top collegiate catcher. Now hes the first backstop since Bench in 1972to receive the NLs most prestigious honor.

Posey, Bench and Thurman Munson are the only catchers inhistory to win an MVP Award, a Rookie of the Year award and a World Seriesring. Posey, Willie Mays and Willie McCovey are the only Giants to accomplishthat trio of feats.

All of which makes Poseys level-headed noggin spin thetiniest bit.

To hear my name mentioned with those guys doesnt even seemreal, the 25-year-old said. Ive always been such a big fan of the game and have suchhuge respect for what hose guys accomplished. To be mentioned alongside themmeans a great deal to me.
RATTO: Posey takes the fun out of NL MVP race

Posey was speaking on a conference call from his boyhoodhome in Leesburg, Ga. Earlier in the day, he attended a fundraiser for theTransitional Learning Center, where his mother, Traci, teaches students whohave not been successful in a regular school setting due to behavior oracademic difficulties. The school serves children in Lee County who were referredby their former schools, tribunals or through the court system.

The schoolsexpectations, according to its Web site, are these three words: think, learn, consider.

Sounds like an apt summary for Poseys approach to the game,right?

He is acing all the exams. Despite playing just one full season and parts of two others, he has accomplished two World Series titles, caught a perfect game, won a SilverSlugger and a Hank Aaron Award, claimed Comeback Player of the Year honors andwon a Rookie of the Year trophy.

And now, the MVP.

He accepted it on live television from what looked like across between a chemistry lab and a polling place, and while wearing a plaidbutton-down shirt and holding onto one of his 15-month-old twins. He had his family, friends and others behind him.

He never thought of ditching the fundraiser for a more polished setting.

When I found out theres a conflict, I figured there was away we could make it work one way or another, he said. It turned out great,having more family and friends around for the announcement.

It made for a perfect backdrop. Posey, the Deans Liststudent at Florida State who treats his major league career with the sameearnest, studious drive, became the youngest NL MVP since Ryne Sandberg in1984.

Hes also the first NL MVP wholly developed by the Giantssince Willie McCovey in 1959.

When we drafted him we knew we were getting a talentedplayer, we knew what a good hitter he was, and we knew he was converting tocatcher, Bochy said. I didnt know he would become the caliber of catcherthat he is today quite so fast. We knew he was a good makeup guy, but hisprofessionalism, his handling of the staff, its amazing how good he is.

We knew we were getting a good player, I dont think anyoneknew how great he would become.

And no, Bochy did not pencil in Posey to lead the majorleagues with a .336 average, post an on-base percentage over .400 or drive in104 runs. Not after Posey couldnt put weight on his left leg for four monthslast year. Not after the heat-seeking hit at home plate on May 25, 2011, thatsnapped his leg and ruined his left ankle to the point where it required twosurgeries to repair the damage.

But team orthopedist Dr. Ken Akizuki restored the ligaments,head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner and his staff partnered with Posey todevelop an intensive rehab program and a spring full of trepidation passed without any setbacks.

Posey wasnt remiss in thanking Groeschnerand the medical staff while accepting news of the award.

Its an accomplishment that is shared with the whole Giantsorganization, and it starts at the top with great ownership and a front officewho is putting these guys on the field, Posey said. Its a great place tocome and play ball every day Weve seen the past couple years how passionateour fans are, so I couldnt be more honored to have my name among the previouswinners.

Would the Giants have three-peated if they had Posey healthy down the stretch last year? It's impossible to say. But Bochy agreed that itsreasonable to believe that they wouldve at least made it into the playoffs.

I certainly think so, Bochy said. Hes the MVP. Hesgetting his due recognition as far as being one of the elite players ever inthe game, and hes in a class with some of the greatest players in the Giantsorganization. I knew he would win and its richly deserved.

It just amazes me what he accomplished coming off thatdevastating injury. It shows you not only how talented he is but how tough heis.

Ballots were due before the playoffs began, so the Giants' six elimination victories on their way to a World Series sweep over the Detroit Tigers wasn't a factor in voting. Still, Posey was named on all 32 ballots while receiving 27first-place votes, four seconds and one third. Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun,who finished a distant second, also was named on all 32 ballots, never lowerthan fourth, and received three first-place votes. Cardinals catcher YadierMolina received the other two first-place votes and finished fourth. ThePirates Andrew McCutchen, who finished third, was the only other player namedby all 32 voters, who each submitted a 10-deep ballot.

Braun told theMilwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he supported Posey winning.

"I think Buster Posey deserved to win," Braun said. "What he was able to accomplish this year as a catcher for a team that eventually went on to win the World Series was incredible. I thought he was the best player; I though he deserved to be the MVP. He certainly is deserving of the award."

The Giants became the fourth team in major league history,and the first since the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates, to have a player win theregular-season MVP (Posey), All-Star Game MVP (Melky Cabrera) and World SeriesMVP (Pablo Sandoval) in the same season.

One of those MVPs abruptly left the scene on Aug. 15, when Cabrera wassuspended for testing positive for exogenous testosterone. But Posey only got better from there, and more valuable.

One year after he couldnt walk, Posey carried his team.

I do know I definitely have a deeper appreciation for beingable to play baseball, Posey said. Ive seen it can be taken away quick. Ihope I can continue to embrace the game and enjoy it because that was my mindsetcoming into the year: just enjoy each minute that youre out there.

Pence the hero with walk-off single vs Padres

Pence the hero with walk-off single vs Padres

BOX SCORE

 

SAN FRANCISCO -- Hunter Pence hit a two-run double down the first-base line with the bases loaded and one out in the 11th inning, sending the San Francisco Giants past the San Diego Padres 3-2 on Sunday.

Brad Hand (1-4) got in trouble fast. He allowed Andrew McCutchen's one-out double, then intentionally walked Buster Posey and hit Brandon Crawford with his first offering. Pence followed with his 11th career walk-off hit and first since another against Hand two years ago. Pence raised his arms once the ball got past first baseman Eric Hosmer.

Cory Spangenberg had put San Diego ahead in the top of the 11th with a single.

The Giants' rally spoiled a chance for victory by journeyman reliever Robert Stock in his long-awaited major league debut at age 28. He worked out of a tough spot in the 10th after a call-up earlier in the day from Triple-A El Paso.

Manuel Margot led off the game with a home run, and drew a leadoff walk in the 11th from San Francisco reliever Reyes Moronta. After Ty Blach (5-5) relieved, Spangenberg singled off first baseman Brandon Belt's glove.

A solo homer by each team was it until the 11th.

Joe Panik doubled leading off the 10th before Stock retired the side with a pair of strikeouts.

Belt hit a two-out double in the eighth against Kirby Yates. Padres right fielder Hunter Renfroe made a magnificent catch in foul territory on McCutchen's flyball, rolling into the first row of fans after the grab.

Posey doubled and singled for the Giants, who concluded a stretch of 17 straight games without a break.

Margot began the game with a 3-2 drive into the left-field bleachers for his second homer of the year. It was his fifth career leadoff home run after hitting four last season. The Giants tied it on a leadoff homer by Gorkys Hernandez in the sixth, his ninth after none in 2017.

McCutchen's one-out single in the fourth was the Giants' first hit off Padres starter Eric Lauer.

Giants rookie Dereck Rodriguez stuck out six and walked one over seven innings, allowing one run on four hits in his fifth major league start and third at home - where he remains unbeaten.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Padres: Travis Jankowski was a late scratch with left quadriceps soreness and Matt Szczur replaced him in left field. ... C Austin Hedges went hitless in his return from the disabled list. He was activated and started, batting seventh, after being sidelined since May 1 with tendinitis in his right elbow. ... RHP Jordan Lyles, scratched in the bottom of the first Saturday just before his scheduled start, was placed on the DL retroactive to Thursday with inflammation in his pitching elbow. He will go home to San Diego and be examined Monday but the injury isn't considered serious - there is believed to be no structural damage - and as of now the training staff didn't plan to do any additional exams, though manager Andy Green acknowledged that could change.

Giants: Manager Bruce Bochy is encouraged by RHP Johnny Cueto's first rehab outing as he works back from a sprained pitching elbow. Cueto went 3 2-3 scoreless innings throwing 38 pitches with no walks for Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday and rejoined the Giants on Sunday for a bullpen session. The plan is for another off the mound in five days and likely two more rehab starts, and the next could be with Class A San Jose. "Right now he feels great," Bochy said.

UP NEXT

Padres: LHP Joey Lucchesi (3-3, 3.86 ERA) takes the mound for the series opener at Texas, making his second start since returning from the DL for a right hip strain.

Giants: Following their first off day since June 7 on Monday, LHP Derek Holland (5-7, 4.48) will pitch Tuesday night against Colorado looking to win back-to-back outings for the first time in 2018.

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.”