Keeping Buster Posey safe at home

AT&T PARK — While Buster Posey filmed his latest commercial for SFG Productions on the field, an animated Hunter Pence was addressing some harsh memories.

Every Giants fan remembers the grisly broken leg Posey suffered in the path of the heat-seeking Scott Cousins at home plate in 2011.

Talking about a proposed rule change that bars hits like the one which broke Posey’s left leg, Pence stressed there needs to be a balance between protection for the catcher and the ability for a baserunner to do his job:

“There needs to be a safe spot for a catcher. But it’s up to them [to decide] to be in the danger zone. I know in spring training I’ve gone in soft and gotten hurt that way. I always go as hard as I can into home plate, if they come late and you’re not going hard you’re going to get hurt.”

Pence doesn’t have a direct voice in the rule-making process, though he said he was able to voice his opinion to a source who does.

Passed in time for the 2014 season, the MLB Rules Committee has agreed to ban collisions at the plate, forcing players to attempt to slide around the catcher or be subject to fines or possibly suspensions.

The ruling, though, requires the Major League Baseball Players Association to sign off on the changes.

Since his ankle injury, Posey has changed his style of defending the plate on close plays, preferring to try to slap a tag towards the advancing baserunner instead of blocking his path with his body.

While this style worked out memorably on a close play on Prince Fielder during the 2012 World Series, it often time leaves the corner open for runners who swing wide.

Posey’s health remains paramount to the Giants success, and the coaching staff would much rather see him be able to finish out the season than to be hobbled by injury after collisions at the plate.

Lingering effects of the injury could still be seen in Posey’s ability to maintain power through his legs deep into the 2013 season.

After winning the NL batting title, the Silver Slugger and the NL Hank Aaron Award in 2012 with a .336 average, Posey had a steep drop-off at the plate in 2013, especially in the second half.  He finished the year with a .294 average, hitting .244 after the All-Star break.

Giants Media Day

SFBay photos by Scot Tucker and Godofredo Vasquez

SFBay photos by Scot Tucker and Godofredo Vasquez