SAN FRANCISCO -- Buster Posey knows the day will come when he again has to step toward the third-base line, see a charging runner trying to score and brace for a collision.
That's life as a catcher. Instincts take over and plays are made, or missed. Sometimes, such moments occur with devastating consequences, like Posey's season-ending left leg and ankle injury last May 25 when he was run over at the plate by the Marlins' Scott Cousins.
As new-look Miami visits AT&T Park today for the club's first trip back to San Francisco since that fateful day, Posey has surprised even himself with such a strong comeback. And anybody who understands the mindset of a catcher realizes just how hard it will be for Posey not to block the plate when the time comes, as Giants manager and former catcher Bruce Bochy has instructed since Day One of spring training.
"That's something I really don't think about," Posey said of when he might be barreled over again. "It's part of the game. I know there are going to be plays at the plate. The best thing for me to do is to make sure I'm in a good position. With the work that we put in this spring, it's getting close to becoming second nature. Even last year, I never set up on the plate. I always set up a little bit in front of the plate, so it's not that big of a change to move maybe a step out a little bit further."
This spring, Bochy said he would take the decision out of Posey's hands because, "I certainly don't want people to think he's backing off on his own."
The closest call Posey had in the opening month came when Mets pinch-runner Scott Hairston clipped the catcher's leg to break up a double play attempt in the ninth inning of a 5-4 San Francisco loss at New York on April 21. Posey was knocked off balance and threw wildly to first trying for the second out, and the error allowed the Mets to score the winning run. Posey acknowledged Hairston's play was clean.
"He's doing fine. If you watch him, he's not showing any effects," Bochy said of Posey's injury. "That's behind us, that's behind him and I really don't think he thinks about it much anymore. You have a lot going on, but still your instincts take over there. Hopefully you've done enough practice where you're going to do the right thing and get yourself in the right position. He did a lot of work in the spring."
These days, Cousins is at Triple-A New Orleans and there's more talk about outspoken Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen making headlines than what happened here almost a year ago. That's largely to Posey's credit. He has moved on, and shown signs he is still every bit the player he was before tearing three ligaments in his left ankle and breaking a bone in his lower leg.
The 2010 NL Rookie of the Year is batting .353 with four home runs and nine RBIs, and has no lingering effects from the injuries.