SAN FRANCISCO – Giants manager Bruce Bochy couldn’t be happier that Ryan Vogelsong will get to represent his country in the World Baseball Classic.
And Bochy has to admit it: He’s also thrilled that Buster Posey will not take part in the international tournament.
“Every player has the decision and we respect the decision,” Bochy said. “In our case, sure, we played till November. For a catcher, in particular, that’s a long season – and Buster spent all last offseason rehabbing. He played a lot more games than we thought.
“So I think he’s doing the right thing because he understands how much earlier he’d have to crank it up and be game ready.”
Last spring, the Giants carefully paced Posey through the spring, delayed his Cactus League exhibition debut and held down his innings behind the plate – all part of getting him back on the field following a pair of surgeries to reconstruct three torn left ankle ligaments.
The spring plan worked perfectly, as Posey ended up starting 143 games, including 111 behind the plate, and then holding up through three rounds of postseason play. Giants head trainer Dave Groeschner received well-deserved thanks from Posey after he was named the NL MVP.
It worked so well, in fact, that Groeschner told me at the winter meetings that all parties agreed to follow a similar plan this spring. Obviously, playing in the WBC would’ve thrown a wrench into those plans.
Posey is just 25 and so there should be plenty of chances for him to play in a WBC when the timing suits him a little better.
As for Vogelsong, playing in the WBC is something he’s thought about for more than just a month or two.
“With Vogey, it’s something he’s really wanted going back to early last season,” Bochy said. “He was front and center about wanting to go and represent his country and I’m excited that he’ll be able to do that.”
Jeremy Affeldt will play for the U.S. team as well; the entire roster will be announced on Thursday. Pablo Sandoval, the first World Series MVP from Venezuela, will represent his country. And I’m told it remains likely that right-hander Sergio Romo will play for Mexico, although no official decision has been made.
Players who take part in the WBC will leave March 4 to join their country’s camp; early rounds for most clubs take place in Puerto Rico and Phoenix, with the semifinals in Miami and the finals March 17-19 at AT&T Park.
“Especially knowing the finals will be in our ballpark, it makes it special to see these guys taking part,” Bochy said.
The WBC doesn’t just affect the players taking part. It also affords a longer look to some younger players, who will get more innings and at-bats in front of major league coaches in spring training. The Giants are expected to have more than 35 pitchers in big league camp, and of course, you need to carry a few more catchers to make sure all those arms can throw their bullpen workouts.
Right-hander Chris Heston and left-hander Mike Kickham are two of the Giants’ better minor league pitchers who figure to get a longer look in the spring. Third baseman Adam Duvall, who led all Giants minor leaguers in home runs and RBIs for Single-A San Jose, also could benefit because he is a third baseman and the Giants will need others to fill in while Sandoval is away.