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Monday, August 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Giants’ Buster Posey catching more in spring than expected

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Dereck Rodriguez, left, talks with catcher Buster Posey, right, after loading the bases during the first inning of a spring baseball game against the Colorado Rockies in Scottsdale, Ariz., Sunday, March 3, 2019. (Chris Carlson / Associated Press)
San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Dereck Rodriguez, left, talks with catcher Buster Posey, right, after loading the bases during the first inning of a spring baseball game against the Colorado Rockies in Scottsdale, Ariz., Sunday, March 3, 2019. (Chris Carlson / Associated Press)
By Carrie Muskat Associated Press

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – On Saturday, San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey played in his fifth spring training game and made his fourth start behind the plate.

Told that it seems as if he’s catching more than expected coming off hip surgery, Posey agreed.

“Which is a good thing,” Posey said. “I didn’t really have expectations coming in. I would say so, too. That’s a positive.”

Posey will be in the Giants’ lineup on Sunday as well, but as the designated hitter. It will be the second time he’s played in back to back games this spring. Last August, he had surgery to address a hip impingement and repair a torn labrum.

Is there anything he can’t do because of his hip?

“I’d say the best way to describe how I feel is just more free,” Posey said. “I don’t feel stuck. Like any rehab, it’s a little bit like this and for the most part, mine has been a gradual incline. At the same time, I’m aware there might be some soreness and inflammation along the way. I’m hoping to leave here in a couple weeks and be ready to go.”

Giants manager Bruce Bochy has been inserting Posey in the No. 2 spot in the lineup simply to give him more at-bats. The six-time All-Star’s playing time has been determined by how he feels and constant communication with the Giants’ medical staff.

“They just kind of check in and see how I’m feeling,” Posey said. “If I’m bouncing back, then great.”

The Giants pitchers are counting on a bounceback season for Posey, 31, who was limited to 105 games last season.

“Buster’s a smart guy,” Giants pitcher Dereck Rodriguez said. “He has a different game plan with every single pitcher. He came up to me in the bullpen before we started warming up and said, ‘Today, we’ll start mixing it up.’ He’ll tell me some of their key players and the ones we want to focus on more than others.

“Buster, he’s a leader, and he helps me out a ton back there,” Rodriguez said. “I can’t say enough how grateful I am.”

Veteran catcher Stephen Vogt likes working with Posey, too.

“Just listening to him talk about the way he does things is great and how he goes about his business and just observing,” Vogt said. “Obviously, he’s done it for a lot longer than I have and at a higher success rate than I have. Any time you get a chance to watch him and listen to the way he talks about the way he works with pitchers and the way he receives and just keeping things smooth, that’s the big thing with him. Watching the way he goes about it is pretty special.”

NOTES: A year ago, Rodriguez was one of the first players cut from the Giants’ big league camp. On Saturday, he tuned up for the season by striking out five over 3 2/3 innings against the Chicago Cubs in his third spring start. The biggest difference this spring? “I’m still here,” Rodriguez said, looking around the Giants’ clubhouse. “Last year at this time, I was on the other side (in the minor league camp). Now, I know the days I’m pitching. I get to start the games instead of coming in the seventh or eighth innings. I’ve just got my head down and keep doing what I’m doing.” Rodriguez was assigned to minor league camp on March 12 after appearing in three spring games last year. He did start March 21 against the Arizona Diamondbacks and Posey caught that game. “He had the confidence and the poise and the ability to adjust like any good major leaguer has to adjust, whether it’s defensively or offensively,” Posey said. “Because of that, he’s going to be successful for a long time.” Bochy on Rodriguez: “Right now, he’s part of this rotation. I think he’s throwing the ball well.” … The Giants reassigned right-handed pitchers Carlos Navas and Kieran Lovegrove to their minor league camp. With the moves, there now are 55 players in camp plus one on the 60-day injured list.

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