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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Tim Flannery wasn’t sure if he misheard Buster Posey or if the former NL MVP misspoke.
Or if Flannery’s coffee hadn’t kicked in yet.
Posey walked onto the field before Monday’s practice began, a bat in his hands, and asked for a little bunting practice.
“I’m thinking, `Great,’” Flannery said, smiling. “Buster does that in a game and I’ll have (Bruce) Bochy yelling, `Who put that on?’ I don’t need that. I already get blamed for everything including climate change.”
Then Flannery had another thought.
“You know, if we did one of those bunting competitions at the end of the spring, Buster could come out as my total sleeper,” he said. “We’d make some money together.”
Eh. Posey already has $167 million coming his way. And besides, he has no designs on being the next Brett Butler.
So why the bunting practice? Did he look on the back of his baseball card this winter, embarrassed to see he had zero sacrifice hits in his career?
“Nope,” Posey said. “Wasn’t that. Want to try again?”
Okay. He’s a noticeable step faster this spring. Is he thinking he could drag out a bunt single or two?
“Wrong again. You really want to know?”
“I did it in college,” he said, “and it helped with my barrel accuracy.”
When you lay down a bunt, you’re not stabbing at the pitch. You’re almost catching it with your bat. They say good hitters approach their swing the same way. For Posey, the early drill Monday helped him see the ball longer. It’ll help to remind him where he needs the barrel to be at the point of contact.
Posey got stronger this winter, and more bat speed equals more confidence to let the ball travel. That’s how he won a batting title. That’s what got away from him in the second half, when he hit just two home runs and didn’t have his legs under him and probably didn’t feel he could catch up with pitches if he didn’t get his swing started a bit earlier.
There’s nothing dragging with Posey now. Bochy is being careful anyway, saying Posey won’t catch Wednesday’s Cactus League opener. Bochy plans to wait until Friday to give Posey his first exhibition start behind the plate.
"My call," Bochy said.
So … what about that extra step?
“I did tell him that,” said Bochy, joking that Posey has always had the green light to steal. “But I also told him those legs feel great right now before you catch 100 games.”
Two quick updates: Center fielder Angel Pagan returned to Monday’s workout after resting a sore back on Sunday. And second baseman Marco Scutaro might make his Cactus League debut by the weekend, Bochy said. Scutaro hasn’t done any hitting on the field yet.