Posey adds bulk with offseason conditioning
Giants All-Star catcher gains 10 pounds in hopes of avoiding late-season slump
SAN FRANCISCO -- Buster Posey donned his Giants uniform and catching gear Friday at AT&T Park to tape a promotional television commercial. He might have been equally primed to perform had he been competing instead of acting.
Bent on fortifying himself physically to withstand the erosion of catching, Posey reported that he added about 10 pounds to his 6-foot-1 frame through his offseason training program. He endured a subpar year by his standards in 2013, mainly due to a limp second-half performance. Though Friday's filming didn't tax Posey's energy, his appearance on the field conveyed the sense that he could start the season now and charge through it.
After winning the National League Most Valuable Player award in 2012 with a .336 batting average, 24 home runs, 103 RBIs and gigabytes of other impressive statistics, Posey finished last year with corresponding numbers of .294, 15 and 72. After making his second NL All-Star team in a row, he hit .244 with seven doubles and two home runs in 58 games. His 16 RBIs after the All-Star break tied for the seventh-lowest total among NL players with at least 200 plate appearances in that span.
Posey refused to attribute his plummeting productivity to fatigue.
"As a competitor, you don't want to use anything as an excuse," he said on the eve of Saturday's FanFest. "No matter how your body's doing or how you're feeling mentally, you should be able to find a way to get the job done."
But Posey's slump didn't fool Giants manager Bruce Bochy.
"He was tired last year," said Bochy, a former catcher.
Posey, who estimated his weight at 212 to 214 pounds, ostensibly appears better equipped to handle the rigors of his job.
Asked if his conditioning will manifest itself in more powerful explosiveness from his catcher's crouch, accelerated bat speed or greater endurance, he replied, "Hopefully all of the above."
Bochy expressed confidence in Posey's ability to rebound.
"He's smart," Bochy said. "He knows what he needs to do, as far as any adjustment in this game. ... You never arrive as a player. I'm sure Buster feels like that, whether it's throwing, blocking pitches, calling a game or the offensive side. The one area he wanted to focus on was build some strength. And he's done that."
This particular offseason gave Posey the opportunity to experience a full conditioning regimen. After the 2011 season, he was still recovering from the multiple left leg injuries he sustained in his May home-plate collision with Scott Cousins of the Marlins. The winter of 2012-13 was shortened by the October-long march to the World Series championship.
This time, he didn't have to skip or rush through any part of the regimen prescribed by strength and conditioning coach Carl Kochan.
"It felt really long," Posey said of the offseason.
Yet last year's bitterness remains pungent. Reversing the Giants' 76-86, third-place finish is a paramount goal for Posey.
"There's a bad taste in a lot of guys' mouths," he said. "We want to focus on winning ballgames."
Posey, who turns 27 on March 27, insisted that he isn't focused on the proposed rule changes to prevent baserunners from barreling into catchers unnecessarily. This cause gained momentum after the Posey-Cousins incident. Whether the new rules will be implemented before the regular season begins remains uncertain.
Said Posey, "I try to keep myself out of the conversation as much as I can. Because I know people are going to connect me to it regardless. So I'm just kind of sitting back and letting the higher powers hammer it out."
Pressed to issue a judgment on the efforts to help catchers, Posey remained careful.
"Whatever the outcome is, I want it to be the best-case scenario," he said. "I don't want it to be about me."