If the All-Star voting ending today, the San Francisco Giants would have TWO players in the starting lineup.
Melky Cabrera jumped past reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun for third place in the outfield in NL All-Star voting released Tuesday.
Cabrera has 2,144,107 votes to move a little more than 25,000 votes ahead of Braun. Matt Kemp leads among NL outfielders with 3.32 million votes, followed by Carlos Beltran at 2.65 million.
Buster Posey continues to lead among catchers with 2,445,005 votes. He leads Yadier Molina of the Cardinals by 153,438 votes. Posey is trying to become the first San Francisco Giant to be voted the starting NL catcher in an All-Star Game since Ed Bailey in 1963.
The Giants haven’t had two players voted as All-Star starters since 2004, when Barry Bonds (OF) and Jeff Kent (2B) earned the honors.
The last time the Giants had three All-Star starters (via voting) was in 2001 when Bonds, Kent and SS Rich Aurilia won the balloting.
We mentioned that because Pablo Sandoval has moved up to No. 2 among third basemen. Sandoval trails the Mets’ David Wright by about 355,000 votes.
Other Giants among top vote-getters at their positions include 1B Brandon Belt (fourth), SS Brandon Crawford (fifth) and OF Angel Pagan (ninth).
The bad news for Giants All-Star hopefuls is that in-stadium voting ends on Friday, and the Giants are currently halfway through a nine-game road trip. However, Friday’s game is a home-away-from-home game at Oakland.
After that, voting can be done exclusively online through June 28. So let’s hope some wired Giants fans can stuff the ballots.
To vote for your Giants All-Stars, click here.
For a guy who is supposed to be “tired” or “worn out” Buster Posey sure looks frisky these days.
Two weeks ago, CSNBayArea’s Andrew Baggarly posted a story in which he quotes an unnamed scout who said he thought Buster Posey looked “worn out” adding that Posey’s at-bats got worse late in games.
At the time, Posey was hitting .361 with five strikeouts in 36 at-bats in innings 1-3.
But he was hitting .250 with 20 strikeouts in 64 at-bats in innings 4-9. In innings 7-9, he had 13 strikeouts in 30 at-bats with only one walk.
Baggarly did say that part of Posey’s struggles could be attributed to him trying to do too much in the wake of Pablo Sandoval’s absence from the lineup. But he also said fatigue could be a factor.
At the time, MoreSplashHits believed Posey’s struggles had everything to do with Posey trying to do too much.
While Posey’s strikeouts went up in late innings, so did his home runs. On May 10, two of his four home runs came in late innings.
Clearly, with the Giants always involved in tight games, Posey was trying to deliver a big hit that would get the Giants back into a game, give them the lead or help extend a lead.
And that got him into habits that took him away from the talents that made his such a valuable bat in the Giants lineup.
Once Posey realized that, he went about fixing it with the help of batting coach Hensley Meulens.
“Basically it’s just trying to keep my front side down,” Posey said. “I give ‘Bam Bam’ a lot of credit for recognizing the problem. We went down just a couple of days ago and hit some off the tee. It’s just a matter of keeping that front side closed and he has a couple of drills to help that.”
Since the start of the Giants’ last homestead, Posey is hitting .367 with 2 home runs and 11 RBI. What’s more, in the late innings, he has struck out twice and walked twice since that May 10 Baggarly post.
Posey had been hitting with power of late as well, even though AT&T Park robbed him of a couple of home runs over the weekend.
Miller Park is a different matter.
Posey belted a three-run shot in the first inning on Monday. On Tuesday, he belted a two-run blast that hit the center-field scoreboard, a shot that was estimated at 438 (even though Posey thinks it would have gone farther).
“I would like to think that one would go out at AT&T, too,” he said. “I think it was a little further (than 438 feet). What do you guys think?”
We think Brewers pitchers would be happy to see Posey sit out the series finale on Wednesday. Posey 12 for 24 with six home runs and 15 RBI in Miller Park (although the Giants’ visit to Milwaukee last season came right after Posey’s season-ending injury).
And the Brewers likely will get their wish. With Barry Zito on the mound (Hector Sanchez has been Zito’s personal catcher) and with a day game after a night game, manager Bruce Bochy said Posey will get a day off.
Barry Zito faces Marco Estrada in 10:10 a.m. game Wednesday. Estrada is 0-3 with 4.63 ERA. He’s allowed at least four earned runs in three of his last four starts.
Once again, Scott Hairston found himself in the cross-hairs of San Francisco Giants’ fans.
This time it wasn’t for delivering a game-winning hit or belting a home run against the Giants.
It was for a slide, an interpreted legal slide that led to an errant throw by Posey and cost the Giants a 5-4 loss to the New York Mets on Saturday.
Let’s set the stage for those who missed it.
The bases were loaded with one out in the bottom of the ninth when Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit a bouncer to first baseman Brandon Belt. Belt threw home to force out Scott Hairston. As Posey went to throw the ball back to first in an attempt to double up Nieuwenhuis and end the inning, Hairston slid into Posey, clipping the catcher’s right foot and causing him to fall just as he threw the ball to first.
Posey’s throw sailed into right field and the Mets scored the winning run.
All media reports, including Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow, called the slide a legal play. Despite Posey’s objections that he was interfered with, Hairston was ruled to be in the base line because he was able to make contact with the plate with his hand as he slid into Posey.
But here’s the point no one is talking about.
Why should a player who has been forced out be allowed to impact the play LONG AFTER he’s been eliminated from the play?
In fact, the rule book says he should not.
Rule 7.09(d) on batter on runner interference states:
“Any batter or runner who has just been put out hinders or impedes any following play being made on a runner. Such runner shall be declared out for the interference of his teammate.”
Pretty cut and dried. Except that there is an additional comment that opens that rule up for interpretation.
“If the batter or runner continues to advance after he has been put out, he shall not by that act alone be considered as confusing, hindering or impeding the fielders.”
It is that comment that allows runners sliding into second to attempt to break up double plays. But this play was not like a play at second when the runner is going hard into the base just as the infield receives the throw, forces the runner out and makes the throw to first in a bang-bang fashion.
Hairston was forced out at the plate while he was still a good 20 feet away from the plate.
Take a look at the photo at the top of this post.
Posey has already caught the ball, forced out Hairston and now the ball is in his throwing hand, ready to be released — and Hairston HAS NOT YET started his slide.
He’s already out. LONG OUT. At what point is a runner no longer be allowed to be part of the play? At what point is it purely interference and not just considered part of the completion of the play?
On this play, Hairston’s slide that clipped Posey was CLEARLY not part of the “act alone” of continuing to advance on the play. It was a deliberate effort to continue the play after he had been forced out with the explicit intent to interfere with the defender.
The only reason why Hairston was given the opportunity to interfere with Posey was that Posey hestitated briefly before throwing because pitcher Jeremy Affeldt was running to cover first base. (Now, there’s a secondary question about whether since it was Affeldt covering first whether Posey should have attempted the throw at all. But that’s not really pertinent to the argument we are making here.)
So MoreSplashHits contends that if a runner has not yet started his slide by the time he is forced out at any base, then he should be considered out on interference if he comes in contact with the defender.
Bruce Bochy and the Giants tried to lobby MLB to alter its rules about making contact with the catcher at the plays at the plate in an effort to protect catchers in the wake of Posey’s season-ending injury.
But at least when Scott Cousins barreled into Posey last May, he was a live runner on the basepaths. Even if Posey had caught the ball and maintained possession to record the out on Cousins, Cousins still would have been a live runner on the basepaths until contact was made with Posey.
In this case, Hairston was not a live baserunner. He was out, when he was allowed to contact the catcher.
MoreSplashHits believes Hairston should have been called out on interference.
That’s our interpretation of the rule. And it’s the proper interpretation of the rule.
What do you think?
Wednesday started out as just as any other mid-week day after a day off in Denver that followed a Barry Zito shutout.
Then things got REALLY wacky.
First came the announced lineup for Wednesday’s game at Colorado that did not include Brandon Belt.
This came just two days after manager Bruce Bochy said, when talking about Belt’s day off on Monday: “I think we’re getting a little caught up here. There’s no panic (with Belt).” And then he said Belt would be back out there on Wednesday.
Then Wednesday’s come, and no Belt. What?
We’re guessing Bochy wanted to get Nate Schierholtz his first start on Wednesday. Then after doing that, he looked at the lineup that would have had a struggling Belt No. 5 followed by Schierholtz No. 6, then Brandon Crawford and Emmanuel Burriss, and he didn’t like it. So Aubrey Huff, who had a nice game Monday, gets the start.
OK, it’s not unreasonable. But with the lefty Jamie Moyer starting Thursday, we would expect Brett Pill to start at first base. That means no Belt starting the entire Rockies series, which is a lovely park for a struggling hitter to find his stroke.
Then, Lincecum showed up to the park with four inches of hair lopped off, saying that he “just wanted a haircut.”
But that story would take a backseat to the next nugget: Buster Posey was out of the lineup with shingles.
Shingles is triggered by the same virus that causes chicken pox, leading to painful blisters. Posey has blisters on his arm, left shoulder and back. Posey said he had chicken pox as a young child, but the virus stays dormant in the box and can be flared by a cold, lack of sleep or stress.
So beware Ozzie Guillen.
Posey said he started to feel worn down toward the end of spring training and the blisters began to emerge Sunday.
“You feel zapped,” he told CSNBayArea’s Andew Baggarly. “I just feel worn down still. I’m planning on being in there (Thursday), though.”
Posey has been told the condition generally clears in four or five days, but can last as long as three weeks.
Given that, we wouldn’t be surprised if Posey plays first base on Thursday, with Sanchez drawing another start behind the plate.
Still two hours until game time, and no word if Brian Wilson is clean-shaven or not.
It seems with every game Buster Posey plays this spring, he hits a new milestone in his recovery from last year’s season-ending injury.
On Friday against the Rangers, it was Posey first play at home since getting bulled over by the Marlins’ Scott Cousins.
But by all accounts, Posey passed this test, like he’s passed just about all other tests this spring.
Well, except, the runner wasn’t out. But who cares? Posey was not hurt.
“One run’s not worth him missing the whole year again,” pitcher Madison Bumgarner put it.
The play came in the fifth inning, with the Rangers’ Mitch Moreland on second when Elvis Andrus singled to center.
Angel Pagan came up throwing home on the play. It was a good throw. Posey positioned himself in front of home plate, a bit more out in front than on the Cousins play last May. Moreland then came into the plate wide with a hook side.
Posey fielded the throw, then lunged at Moreland with a sweep tag. At first it appeared that Posey missed Moreland all together. But Posey said he tagged him high. It’s hard to say whether Moreland’s hand swiped the plate before Posey’s tag.
Even though every one else in the park might have been thinking about it, Posey said he wasn’t thinking back to last May when the play developed.
“I was more thinking kind of about the work we’d done this spring and all the practice and stuff,” Posey said. “And I think … it was was good.”
It may have been the first play at the plate, but it won’t be Posey’s last. But again, it’s a step.
Oh and the home plate umpire who made the call at the plate? Derryl Cousins, oddly enough. No relation.
- Somewhat lost in the hub-bub of the Posey play at the plate was the fact that it appeared that the Giants were headed to their second consecutive shutout loss. That is until Brett Pill’s home run in the ninth inning. It was Pill’s third homer this spring and second in three days as he makes a late push to make the club.
- 1B Brandon Belt, also competing to make the club, went 2 for 3 with a walk. He’s hitting .348 this spring.
- Aubrey Huff, getting the start in left, had a double over the center fielder’s head in left-center. It was Huff’s first double of the spring.
- Ryan Theriot started at 3B and went 0 for 3, dropping his spring average to .200 — although he was robbed of an infield hit by a bad call at first.
- Meanwhile, Emmanuel Burriss started at 2B and went 2 for 3, raising his averge to .436.
- Madison Bumgarner gave up one run in 5 2/3 innings (the run coming on that play at the plate). But he also gave up eight hits, all singles. In fact, the Rangers had 13 hits in the game, all singles.
- Javier Lopez got tagged for three runs on four singles in the ninth.
- Sergio Romo returned to action after sitting out with a cranky elbow. He had a 1-2-3 eighth with a strikeout.
The Giants have their final split-squad day of the spring. Both are 1:05 p.m. games. Matt Cain will start on the road against the Reds. Posey will start at 1B in that game. Minor leaguer Travis Blackley will start in Scottsdale against the Rockies.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before.
The Giants hope that Freddy Sanchez will play his first game in the field on Friday.
Sanchez is slated to take infield practice on Thursday. If he shows manager Bruce Bochy what he wants to see, then Sanchez will play at second base Friday. If not, then he won’t.
And if he doesn’t play in the field Friday, it’s time to really start thinking about Sanchez missing opening day.
Sanchez even admitted Monday that it’s “getting late here.”
“The big thing is double plays,” Sanchez said. “I’m not getting as much on my throws as I should.”
RYAN VOGELSONG: The news was better on Vogelsong. He is scheduled to make his spring training debut on Saturday, when he’ll pitch one inning in the home split-squad game against the Rockies.
Bochy said the plan is to get Vogelsong up to five innings and 70 pitches by the end of spring training. But it’s a narrow window.
If Saturday is his first start, he would get two more starts before the start of the season on normal rest: March 29 vs. the Rangers and April 3 vs. the Athletics in Oakland. That would align him to make his first regular-season start on April 9 at Colorado.
Bochy said that Vogelsong will throw only one inning in the game because “he’ll be amped and we don’t want any setbacks.”
Translation: He’ll likely throw more in the bullpen after his one inning Saturday. He threw 40 pitches in a live BP session on Tuesday.
Still, it seems extremely tight. It would make more sense to use the April 10 off day to skip Vogey’s turn and have him open season on April 15 at home vs. Pirates.
BRIAN WILSON: The Giants said they are taking the foot off the accelerator on Wilson’s pitching schedule after The Beard reported mild arm soreness.
Wilson last pitched Saturday and had been throwing every three days. The Giants have pushed him back to Thursday.
He played catch Wednesday and looked fine, according to CSNBayArea.com’s Andrew Baggarly. Bochy said if it had been the regular season, Wilson would have pitched.
Wilson has hit 96 mph on the gun this spring, and Bochy called this normal spring soreness.
OK. But, still, hmmm.
BUSTER POSEY: Posey caught a spring-high six innings Tuesday and looked good when he pounced on a bunt attempt and threw out the batter at first.
“Buster looks fine,” Bochy said. “We’ll start cranking it up a little bit here.”
The next step is catching back-to-back games, which could come soon. Posey was in the lineup Wednesday as a DH.
Many fans and media members have commented that opening day is two weeks away and Posey is only catching six innings.
It’s not that he CAN’T catch a full game. It’s that the Giants are taking it conservatively, trying not to push things, waiting to see how Posey reacts.
So far, Posey has responded well to every step he has taken this spring.
It was great to see Buster Posey catching again.
It was great to see Buster Posey swinging the bat in a game again.
But we were thinking Wednesday, it would be really great to see Buster Posey get a hit again.
Posey put together three 0-fers in his first three spring training games, and that stretch extended to 0 for 8 in Wednesday’s game against the Indians.
But in his third at-bat Wednesday, Posey drove a Tony Sipp fastball the opposite way over the right-field wall for his first spring hit — a home run.
“I thought I hit it pretty good,” Posey said. “I’m just glad I hit it hard. That’s the goal every time.”
It was another good sign on Posey’s road to recovery.
There have been some talking heads who have doubting whether Posey will be fully recovered by opening day.
Posey is not one of them.
“I think I’ve been lucky as far as not having any setbacks,” he said. “I don’t know if I need to knock on wood or what. But I think we’ve got a game plan the rest of the way through. I’ll be ready on April 6.”
The now is for Posey to take Thursday off and catch again on Friday. He hopes to catch six innings in a game next week.
And as far as knocking on wood? Yes, Buster, you do need to knock on wood. Base knocks. Keep ’em coming.
- Gregor Blanco continues to give the Giants reason to think. He went 1 for 3 with a walk. Blanco drew a walk to open the game (a rarity for the Giants in 2011). He was moving on Melky Cabrera’s grounder to first. When Cabrera was thrown out with the pitcher covering first, Blanco scooted all the way to third base. That allowed him to score on Pablo Sandoval’s ground out. Manager Bruce Bochy said the decision to keep Blanco on the 25-man roster will likely go right down to the wire. “He’s certainly intriguing, isn’t he?” Bochy said.
- Matt Cain gave up two runs on five hits and walk in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out four. One run allowed scored on an inning-ending double play when Asdrubel Cabrera came across the plate before the Giants could complete a tag-out double play in the first. The other run scored when Mitch Lively came into relieve Cain in the fourth and allowed an inherited runner to score from third on a wild pitch.
- Relievers Brian Wilson, Javier Lopez, Clay Hensley and Dan Otero each recorded 1-2-3 innings.
- Not sure if it’s a cause of concern, but the Giants’ bats have gone a little cold in recent days. They were limited to four singles andPosey’s home run on Wednesday. They also struck out eight times with only one walk — the walk to Blanco to open the game. But this early in spring, hitters prefer to swing the bat than take pitches. For example, the Indians struck out 14 times with just one walk.
Barry Zito takes the mound at the Giants face the Mariners in a 7:05 p.m. at Peoria. The game will be televised live on the MLB Network.