Posey finally leaves big league camp
Giants prospect had good experience learning from Major Leaguers
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Buster Posey's inevitable departure from big league Spring Training more closely resembled a see-you-later than a farewell.The Giants reassigned their prized catching prospect to Minor League camp after Sunday's 1-0 exhibition loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, but the move theoretically wasn't a demotion. Ideally, it'll hasten Posey's development, as he's expected to play every day with other top farmhands at high-Class A San Jose.
Though Posey was in Major League camp to gain experience and knowledge, he often looked like somebody competing for a job. He hit .300 (9-for-30) with two home runs, seven RBIs and a .533 slugging percentage. The 22-year-old finally appeared a little overmatched at the plate Sunday, striking out twice in an 0-for-3 afternoon while playing the entire game.He's not ready yet, but the Giants believe he could be ready soon. Posey still must learn the art of calling pitches. Still, since starting catcher Bengie Molina will become eligible for free agency after this season, Posey's timetable could be accelerated. "We think a lot of Buster," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's a talented player. We wanted him to get the experience of playing with these guys and also get a look at him." Posey, who won last year's Golden Spikes Award as the country's top amateur player before the Giants drafted him fifth overall out of Florida State University, gained a sense of the considerable difference between college ball and the Majors. "The experience for me was good because it gave me a chance to see the speed of the game," Posey said. "... I felt like I made the adjustment pretty well and I felt like I learned a lot." What Posey learned encompassed all aspects of the game, though a large portion of his education involved catching.
"There's little nuances I picked up," he said. He learned not only by listening to coaches and veterans such as Molina, but also by watching exhibition-game opponents.It was initially believed that Posey would go to Minor League camp in early March, but the Giants waited until only three games remained on their Cactus League schedule to reassign him.
"I didn't know the time frame, but I didn't think I'd stay this long," he said.Posey, who received a $6.2 million bonus, set a simple yet oft-unattainable goal for himself as he enters his first full professional season. "I hope it stays the same with me my whole career -- for me, it's to go out and be consistent," he said. "I think that's one of the big keys to this game. When you look at the guys who've played for so long, they've maintained that consistency." Posey's not the only Giant likely to use the Minors as a stepping-stone. Another is right-hander Joe Martinez, who blanked Milwaukee for four innings Sunday to lower his spring ERA to 4.12. Martinez, who led the Eastern League last year with a 2.49 ERA, has aligned himself as a leading candidate to be summoned to the Majors if or when the Giants need to replace an injured or ineffective starting pitcher. "I hope I've shown that I can compete and give them some quality innings," said Martinez, who hasn't yet been officially demoted. "I hope that if they need me, they feel comfortable calling on me." Martinez, 26, relies on a sinking fastball to coax opponents into hitting harmless grounders and lifting innocuous popups. Though he's not renowned for striking out hitters, he fanned Milwaukee's Prince Fielder with two runners aboard and one out before escaping the first inning. "If my fastball has movement and a little life on it, that's the biggest thing," he said. "It's not necessarily how hard I'm throwing." Besides trimming Posey from the spring roster, the Giants optioned first baseman-outfielder John Bowker and right-hander Osiris Matos to Triple-A Fresno, leaving 32 players in camp. Both had chances to make the club but would have needed excellent Cactus League performances to do so. Bowker, who batted .255 with 10 home runs and 43 RBIs in 111 games with the Giants last year, hit .211 with two homers, 10 RBIs and a .351 slugging percentage this spring. He also had a team-high 15 strikeouts in 57 at-bats. Matos, 1-2 with a 4.79 ERA in 20 relief appearances for the Giants last season, allowed only one earned run in his first 10 Cactus League outings but was sent down with a 4.22 ERA in 11 games.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.