SAN FRANCISCO – The last time the Giants went to the White House as World Series champions two years ago, President Obama admitted that yes, he did fear the beard. He also singled out Tim Lincecum, saying skinny guys like them shouldn’t be underestimated.
President Obama didn’t have a one-liner for Buster Posey. That’s because the Giants’ vitally important catcher wasn’t there. A couple days earlier, Posey had undergone a second surgery to remove screws that were holding his reconstructed ankle together. He was in no condition to travel.
“Of course, I’d have liked to have been there,” Posey said Wednesday.
He’ll get his chance. The Giants will visit again as defending champions on Monday.
“I’m excited,” Posey said. “I’ve never been inside the White House. It should be fun. It’s a great honor.”
Even if it means giving up part of a day off. There was a gripe or two back in 2011 when the Giants had to fly a day early to Washington DC before beginning a road trip at Philadelphia. Coincidentally, the Giants are on the same itinerary this time around (except they’ll take buses to Philadelphia instead of the train).
President Obama’s calendar couldn’t accommodate the Giants when they play a series at Nationals Park next month. Back in 2011, President Obama was busy while the Giants were in the District, too. That’s when special forces were taking out Osama Bin Laden.
So anyone who wants to complain about giving up a day off …
“This was the time that worked out for both sides,” Bochy said. "He’s a busy man … It’s so special and we’re so thrilled to go to the White House. You’re honored. It’s a tradition that comes with winning the championship. I think it means a lot to the players, to meet the President. Not many people get this experience.”
The Giants will arrive at the White House in a much different place than July 25, 2011. They were 59-44 at the time and held a four-game lead in the NL West. But they ended up losing four of six on the ensuing road trip, and nine out of 12, to begin a tumble that would find them eight games out and without a place in the postseason at year’s end.
Posey is getting a day off because he played in both games of Tuesday’s doubleheader (although he got whisked out of the Game 1 blowout after just four innings), and Bochy wanted to pair a day of rest with Thursday’s day off.
Posey insisted he felt no ill effects from a foul tip that nearly knocked the mask off his face. It was bad enough that plate umpire Phil Cuzzi deliberately brushed off the plate to give the catcher more time.
“I’m good,” said Posey, who is available off the bench.
Well, so much for the Tanaka/Francoeur platoon era in San Francisco history.
Jeff Francoeur is in Wednesday’s lineup against a right-hander, the Reds’ Mike Leake, and Bochy made it clear that the veteran outfielder will get a chance to play every day.
“I think he’s been throwing out some good at-bats,” Bochy said of Francoeur, who was released by the Royals and signed with the Giants two week ago. “Give him a chance to get settled in.
“He’s a proven major league hitter, and this offense needs help. It’s a good time to throw him out there and try to lengthen our lineup.”
Kensuke Tanaka would be the logical choice to return to Triple-A Fresno when infielder Joaquin Arias is ready to return. Arias and catcher Hector Sanchez begin rehab assignments at Fresno on Wednesday.
If you’ve got Pablo Sandoval on your fantasy team, start him. He’s 7-for-10 with two doubles and two home runs against Leake.
The Giants have re-signed right-hander Chris Heston, who was designated for assignment and then released in a procedural move Tuesday.
Ryan Vogelsong had no setbacks in his start for the Giants’ Arizona Rookie League club Tuesday. He’ll start Friday for Single-A San Jose at Stockton and throw 45 pitches or so, Bochy said.
Vogelsong will accompany the team on the White House visit and then report to Double-A Richmond, where the plan calls for him to make two starts. He’d be activated Aug. 9 if all goes well.
Yusmeiro Petit’s last-minute addition to the Giants roster for Tuesday’s doubleheader resulted in some interesting ripples.
The Giants promoted left-hander Adalberto Mejia, a talented and projectionable pitcher, from San Jose to take Petit’s start for Fresno on Wednesday. And taking Mejia’s spot for San Jose is Nick Vander Tuig -– the winning pitcher for UCLA in last month’s College World Series clincher, the first in the program’s history.
Vander Tuig has one pro inning under his belt, as a reliever for the Arizona League club. This is the first pro start for Vander Tuig (pronounced like the first syllable in tiger), who hails from Oakdale just north of Modesto in Stanislaus County.
According to San Jose announcer Joe Ritzo, Vander Tuig is the first pitcher to be drafted and appear for the Single-A club in the same year since Tim Lincecum in 2006.
Don’t expect Vander Tuig to climb any more rungs this season, though. His innings will be limited given his college workload.