Good news from Scottsdale, Ariz., if you’re a fan of the Giants and Buster Posey.
Dave Groeschner, the Giants’ head athletic trainer, just told me that Posey has begun catching live bullpen sessions for pitchers in the instructional league. Groeschner watched Buster catch his second one this morning. The session lasted about 8 minutes.
This is a huge benchmark in Posey’s recovery from devastating injuries to his left leg that occurred in a May 25 home plate collision with Florida’s Scott Cousins, which required two surgeries thus far and ended his 2011 season. With that, the Giants’ hopes for a repeat World Series championship went down the tubes, too.
Though the Giants initially set Nov. 1 as a target date for Posey to catch live bullpen sessions, they hoped he might start a bit earlier, and Groeschner said Posey is about a week ahead of schedule.
“He’s been feeling good and progressing well, so there was no reason to wait,” Groeschner said.
We won’t know if Posey is truly recovered until spring training in February, when he does all the regular activities with the team and plays in a game, but the fact he’s ahead of schedule raises hopes that he will be ready to hit the ground running when pitchers and catchers report.This is pretty huge, though as noted, in a long recovery like this, and we won't really know until Spring Training. But as the saying goes, a journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step. Keep on, stepping on, Buster!
Then this latest update came along from Schulman again, which reminded me I should put up this post:
Those who saw Posey all summer in a cast, then a boot, tooling around the clubhouse on a wheeled contraption that allowed him to walk on his good leg, would be pleasantly stunned to see him look like abaseball player again, four months before he expects to catch the first pitch of the first Cactus League game not far from this park.
For the last six weeks, Posey has been rehabilitating and strengthening his leg in Scottsdale. He is taking batting practice. He has caught bullpen sessions from instructional-league pitchers. He is running 100-foot sprints, at 90 to 100 percent of full speed, he surmises, with no noticeable discomfort.
Nothing the front office accomplishes this winter will overshadow Posey's labors in Arizona. He was the catcher and cleanup hitter for San Francisco's first World Series championship team, among the strongest links in the chain of players. Nobody can deny the Giants will need a healthy, productive Posey to return to the playoffs in 2012.
He is encouraged by his progress.
"It was a pretty traumatic injury," he said as he rested between his outdoor work (batting practice and running) and an hour in the weight room. "To be five months out, I'm pretty happy where I am.
"When I was in San Francisco thinking about what I'd be doing at this time, I was thinking I'd just start to be running, or start to be hitting off a coach throwing. I've been doing that for four or five weeks now."
On Saturday, Posey will reach an important waypoint in his journey back. He will end his daily workouts in Arizona and go home to Georgia, where, in his mind, he no longer will be rehab guy. Rather, he will be another player preparing for the 2012 season just like any of his teammates.
Giants head trainer Dave Groeschner provided the reality check.
"He'll be in rehab until he plays a major-league game," Groeschner said. "Nov. 5 is the day he'll go home so he can have a little offseason and take a little mental break. He still knows he's got to work on his lower leg and ankle all the way to spring training."
Moreover, Posey and the team will have to remain vigilant because one sprained ankle breeds susceptibility to another. Posey will spend more time in the treatment room, before and after games, than he would prefer. He still has pain at times. Team trainers have warned him it will be a persistent companion.
Posey plans to hire a physical therapist in Georgia to stretch him out before his workouts and has a friend in that line of work, a back therapist. ...
... Perhaps Posey simply understands how much work remains before he can resume his life as a major-league catcher and cleanup hitter.
He can hit 1,000 home runs off Tom Trebelhorn, a 63-year-old coach, on an empty diamond in Scottsdale. Facing Ian Kennedy of the Arizona Diamondbacks on Opening Day 2012, 10 days after his 25th birthday, will be an entirely different story.
Groeschner said Posey's thrice-weekly batting practice has less to do with technique than sending him to Georgia confident that he will be able to hit come spring training, when the real preparations begin.
"The good thing is, you ask him how he is, and he's more frustrated at the way he's swinging his bat than the ankle," Groeschner said. "This is October. We're not worried about his swing much, just that he can do it and he feels good."
Posey confessed he is anxious about playing again, more about running than hitting or catching. When he closes his eyes, he visualizes himself in the squat behind the plate, or standing in the box against a pitcher throwing 95 mph.So there has been continued progress and no setbacks from the last reported good news (as noted up top), again, another positive step forward in his long journey to resuming his major league career.
I also ran into some interviews that Johnny Bench has given about Posey, and I thought I would capture them together here. Basically, Bench is a long-time Buster fan, and he thinks that Posey has the stuff to be one of those generational Hall of Fame catchers. See this interview with Johnny Bench at The XLog. In it, he notes how few catchers are in the Hall of Fame, only 13, basically one per decade. Meaning to him that there is about one per generation. He noted that Buster Posey (as well as Matt Weiters and two Reds prospects) could be that catcher for this generation.
Here are some of Bench's thoughts about how good Buster is, interviewed after the Giants won the World Series last season:
“The thing’s that so impressive, everybody saw in every interview, it was a class act,” Bench said. “He handled himself well. It was like a Tuesday game somewhere else, and he just got four hits. It was about being on the level with the game. He knows as a catcher knows, it’s one game. Then you’ve got to start all over.”
Posey knows Bench, having won the Johnny Bench Award as the best college catcher in 2008.
In their conversation, according to Bench, Posey said, “I asked my mom, ‘Should we call you and talk to you?’ I said, ‘Of course you should.’ “
Bench said Posey has what it takes to be a great catcher.
“He was a shortstop that became a catcher (at Florida State), so every game is still a learning experience for him,” Bench said. “He wasn’t beaten down or anything else. He’s a kid who loves the game. You can tell from his coach and family what a great person he is. And then to move up (to the majors) that quickly is really rare. You’ve got to say he’s a rare example of any phenom that stands up and does the job . He throws well. Calls the game. He’s got it all. And he runs well . . . for a catcher.”
Bench was impressed how Posey, at such a young age, handled pitchers. In this case, perhaps the best staff in the majors.
“There are three types of pitchers you have to deal with,” Bench said. “Some you just have to tell what town they’re in, remind them where they are. Some you remind them about mechanics, and some you have to bust their tail. You have to make them your friend and have them trust you.”
According to the Hall of Famer, the kid pulled it off.Giants Thoughts
After going through this season, I have come to the conclusion that the Giants rode the back of Buster Posey to win the World Series last season. He was the leader who got the team moving towards that goal, as evidenced by this quotes before and after winning, "Why not us?" "Let's do it again". So that leads me to a couple of conclusions.
First, the 2012 Giants with Posey leading the way will be that much more competitive than the 2011 version, no matter who we end up signing as free agents. I think we can win with the group we have, though I would love any offensive upgrades the team can make via free agency or trades. And Buster would lead the way for us.
Second, the Giants should be looking into signing Buster to one of those mega-long contracts, like what Evan Longoria from the Rays or that Colorado doled out to their position stars. As much as we need the pitching to continue to get the opportunities to win it all, I think we need Posey's leadership to push us over the top and achieve that. I love his "Can Do" attitude and that he wasn't bowed by any high expectations nor questioning that they can't achieve the seemingly impossible.
This and signing Lincecum and Cain to long-term contracts are the key things I want to see from the Giants this off-season. Sandoval too would be nice.
FYI, I've been spending a lot of my off-season time checking out DrB's blog for interesting discussions, check it out for my thoughts on some of the things happening to the Giants this off-season, like his recent post on the signing of Lopez then picking up Affeldt's option. (Not too surprising, glad they did it; also, I would love it if the Giants go for it on Grady Sizemore for a one year deal) Unfortunately, I don't usually remember to re-post my thoughts here, as I usually comment all across the internet on the Giants, though I might recap some of it at some point when the mood strikes me.