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. 

MLB rumors: Padres 'taking close look' at free agent Madison Bumgarner

MLB rumors: Padres 'taking close look' at free agent Madison Bumgarner

The teams in the NL West appear to really like free agent Madison Bumgarner.

The Padres are the latest team to show interest in the former Giants ace.

MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported Friday night that the Padres are "taking close looks" at Bumgarner and former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel.

Bumgarner has been linked to the Dodgers and D-backs this week. The Rockies are the only NL West foe not to be linked to the 2014 World Series MVP. The Angels, in the AL West, reportedly are also pursuing Bumgarner after missing out on top free agent Gerrit Cole.

With Cole, Stephen Strasburg and Zack Wheeler off the free agent market, Bumgarner, Keuchel and Hyun-Jin Ryu are the best available arms remaining.

NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic reported Thursday night, citing sources, that there is mutual interest between Bumgarner and the Dodgers. The Giants are still talking to Bumgarner's representatives, according to Farhan Zaidi.

[RELATED: What we learned about Giants at Winter Meetings]

Most Giants fans would like to see Bumgarner return to San Francisco. But if he doesn't, they would probably prefer if he leaves the NL West. It would be tough to watch the longtime face of the Giants come back to pitch against his former team multiple times a year.

MLB rumors: Brandon Belt would fit Brewers, according to rival execs


MLB rumors: Brandon Belt would fit Brewers, according to rival execs

The new dimensions at Oracle Park meant bringing in the fences. This also meant great news for first baseman Brandon Belt ... that is, if he remains with the Giants.

MLB insider Robert Murray reported rival executives believe Belt would be an ideal fit for the Brewers.

As Murray stated in his tweet, Belt is owed a chunk of change over the next two years, but having him at first base every day and bringing a lefty bat into the lineup would prove beneficial for Milwaukee.

The Brewers would be able to have Ryan Braun back in left field more permanently as opposed to switching off with Ben Gamel. If the lineup were out today, Braun would more than likely take over at the first base position.

Giants' Buster Posey has been platooning at first base for the past few seasons which would save his knees and the team still gets his bat if this were to come to fruition.

Let's circle back to the enhancement Belt's bat could possess with these new outfield measurements for a moment.

Belt is one of the biggest victims to fall to the park's infamous Triples Alley. His 25 triples at home across his career is a start. Additionally, he almost doubles his Oracle Park home run count when he's on the road. Playing in San Francisco Belt notched 47 homers -- and when he's on the road? 82.

[RELATED: Five things we learned about Giants at Winter Meetings]

He spoke to Giants insider Alex Pavlovic back in April and said he was torn on the changes being made at the park formerly known as AT&T. He liked the idea of knowing he could limit hitters at a pitcher's park, but when it's his turn to hit, it results in the opposite.

The change would shave off 11 feet and could create a boost in confidence for him at the plate. Whether that's a determinant remains to be seen.