Giants' Buster Posey is right on schedule, pleased with how hip feels


Giants' Buster Posey is right on schedule, pleased with how hip feels

SAN FRANCISCO — In the middle of an interview Friday afternoon, Buster Posey noticed that a local cameraman’s microphone was slipping off a table in front of him. He quickly reached down and grabbed it before it crashed to the floor. 

“See, hands are good still,” he cracked. “Hands are good.”

That was never a concern last season. Without the ability to properly use his lower half in his swing, Posey still managed to bat .284 by consistently flicking pitchers’ best stuff right back up the middle. That’s no way to go through the second half of a career, though, and Posey underwent serious hip surgery in August. 

On Friday, back at Oracle Park with his teammates, he said he’s encouraged by a long winter of rehab work and has no concerns about his status for Opening Day. He also said he's hopeful his power will return in 2019. 

“That’s the reason you do the surgery,” he said. “To try to get back to where you previously were before the damage.”

Posey played on a compromised hip throughout the 2018 season and finally succumbed in late August, as the Giants fell out of the race and prepared to trade Andrew McCutchen. On August 27, he had surgery to repair a hip impingement and torn labrum. He also had a microfracture procedure to promote healing. 

Despite playing just 105 games, Posey led the Giants in WAR (2.9) and was a finalist for the Gold Glove Award. His .359 on-base percentage ranked second among MLB catchers. It was a good season, but the Giants believe much more is on the way. Posey has had no setbacks during the rehab process, and Farhan Zaidi and Bruce Bochy are prepared to see the Posey of old, even if it may take a bit longer than usual to fully ramp up. 

Posey anticipates being ready for the first full-squad workout later this month, but it also seems likely that his true schedule won’t be revealed until the Giants have actually started playing Cactus League games. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him held out deep into March, just in case, and Zaidi said they could take it easy in April, too. 

“We’re going to be smart about it, careful about it,” he said. “Not just going into camp, but even going into the season. Even if he’s ready to carry a full catching load to start the season, I’m not sure that would be the prudent course for us. I think we’re really going to err on the side of caution and that’s one of the reasons that continuing to look for catching depth is going to be important for us.”

Ultimately, the Giants hope Posey can again be his normal self for 110-120 games behind the plate, with plenty more thrown in at first. That’s what Posey has been preparing for, and he said he had a relatively normal January, starting to hit right after the new year. 

“I’ve been pleased with how it’s felt,” he said. 

Posey has been around long enough that he doesn’t just pay attention to the sound of the ball coming off his bat or the rotation of his hips. While discussing the rehab process, he pointed to one moment that stood out. He was doing a single-leg lifting drill and said he could “really feel my right side of my gluteus maximus engage.” 

“I’ve felt like things are more symmetrical with all my leg exercises,” he continued. “Hopefully that’s a good sign.”

Perhaps that’ll even propel him to new heights. Posey, 31, is attacking a new season knowing that his body will allow him to do things he couldn’t a year ago. He smiled as he talked about the difference he has felt while simply running. 

[RELATED: Posey on Giants possibility of signing Bryce Harper]

“I expect to steal 20 this year,” he said. 

That would be something new. The Giants would settle for simply getting what they had before. 

Giants lose on Cole Tucker's first career homer, PNC Park lightning policy

Giants lose on Cole Tucker's first career homer, PNC Park lightning policy

PITTSBURGH -- The Giants have found all sorts of different ways to lose games over the past two-plus years, especially on the road. But this was a new one. 

Derek Holland gave up a two-run shot moments before the tarps came out for good. It didn't seriously rain for about 25 more minutes, but PNC Park has a rule that the tarps come out if lightning strikes within four miles of the field. 

The Giants didn't immediately get a chance to counter at the plate, and when the rain started pouring, they could do nothing but wait before the game was called after three hours and eight minutes. They lost 3-1 in five innings

"If it wasn't for bad luck right now," manager Bruce Bochy said, "We wouldn't have any. That's how things are going."

Holland had thrown well early and was in his last inning, with the game tied at one. With a runner on and two outs, rookie Cole Tucker got a fastball that wasn't as far in as Holland wanted and blasted it into the shrubbery in center field. The homer was the first hit of Tucker's career and came in his first start. As Tucker took a dramatic curtain call, Holland struck out the next batter. He thought the game would continue, but the Giants never got another crack at Jameson Taillon. 

"That sucked," Holland said of the final sequence. "It's very upsetting. I felt like I pitched a pretty good game (and) that's the way it's going to finish.

The Giants lost for the fourth time in five games on this trip, dropping six games under .500. It's not like they should have been overmatched, either. The Pirates called up two rookies after a collision in the outfield Friday night and started both former Giants prospect Bryan Reynolds and Tucker, a shortstop who certainly enjoyed his debut.

Holland didn't take exception to that, saying he was focused on getting the final out of the fifth. 

[RELATED: Giants open to moving relievers]

"I don't have anything against the curtain call," he said. "The kid hit a homer in his first game, so congrats. The kid is living in the moment. It's his Major League debut and he hit a homer."

MLB rumors: Giants willing to talk about trading veteran relievers now


MLB rumors: Giants willing to talk about trading veteran relievers now

PITTSBURGH -- After a busy start to the season, Farhan Zaidi has gone nearly two weeks without making a move. The Giants are not currently considering adding any of their Triple-A bats to a struggling lineup, but there still is stuff percolating behind the scenes. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported Saturday that the Giants are willing to talk about some of their veteran relievers right now, which would be a continuation of a spring where the Giants tried to deal some of their bullpen depth but ultimately held everyone through Opening Day. 

Before that first game, Zaidi explained why a reliever-for-hitter trade never materialized. 

"When we talked about this over the course of the offseason it was a really deep reliever market in free agency this offseason, and we like our relievers, so they weren't just kind of fodder for us to trade them and acquire other pieces," Zaidi said. "A deal like that certainly made sense on paper, but we didn't line up on anything that we thought made sense for us."

It would continue to make sense for the Giants to seek those kinds of deals. They were right about their bullpen depth and talent, and through 21 games the group has a 2.33 ERA, more than a run lower than any other bullpen in the National League. The .605 OPS allowed is 57 points lower than the next best bullpen. 

It would be hard to get much for some of the newcomers, but if Zaidi could find the right deal for a Sam Dyson, for example, Trevor Gott and Nick Vincent could fill some of those innings, along with a resurgent Mark Melancon, who hasn't allowed a run. The Giants could then bring up a Ray Black or Tyler Beede to fill out the bullpen.

[RELATED: Reynolds' call-up a reminder Giants took too long to change]

The left side is where the Giants really have intriguing pieces to offer, and they got calls on both Will Smith and Tony Watson in the offseason. Either one could help any contender, and there is some left-handed depth with Travis Bergen at the big league level and Andrew Suarez, Pat Venditte and Ty Blach in Triple-A. 

There are plenty of teams out there -- hello, Nationals and Braves! -- who could use the bullpen help right now, and Zaidi has shown he's not afraid to pull the trigger on an early deal, trading for two outfielders in the season's first two weeks. If someone out there is willing to give up a nice package for a Giants reliever, you can bet Zaidi will take that call seriously.