Bochy OK with Giants in World Baseball Classic
Skipper concerned about Posey, pitchers, but won't oppose participation
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Manager Bruce Bochy gave position players his blessing Tuesday to participate in the World Baseball Classic next March. But he'll watch his pitchers who wish to enter the event very carefully.Taking his turn for an interview session at baseball's Winter Meetings, Bochy said that he supported players such as third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who intends to represent his native Venezuela in the tournament.
"These guys want to represent their country, and I know that's the case with Pablo," Bochy said. "We want these guys to feel like they can do that."That includes catcher Buster Posey, who appeared in 148 regular-season games and 16 postseason games this year after recovering from extensive left leg injuries that shortened his 2011 campaign. Posey has not committed to playing for the United States, though the National League Most Valuable Player surely will secure a spot on the team if he wants one. "We put Buster through a lot this year," Bochy said. "We played him a lot more than we thought we would. I'm sure he was pretty tired and beat up after the season and needed a break. To be honest, he could use the break with all that we put him through. But it's his decision, and I think this is good for baseball, and I support it." Bochy won't stand in the way of pitchers who want to perform in the Classic. But he sounded queasy about that prospect, largely due to the Giants' prolonged 2012 season. "When you play up to November, sure, there's going to be some concerns with the pitching staff, for them to get [game-]ready by the seventh of March," Bochy said. "That means they're going to have to crank it up early. I'll be honest, I have concern with that." Bochy addressed other subjects, including: Repeating as World Series champions. "I know how tough it is just to get there, but you have to have that confidence, especially when you've done it, that, hey, we can do it again," Bochy said. "... Hopefully they enjoy and savored that experience like they have never done before, and you realize that's why you play the game. ... Success is never final. You've got to do it over and over again. And we know we have our work cut out, but hopefully our motivation is to go out and make new memories. These are things we'll talk about in the spring." Adjusting baserunning rules to protect catchers from violent injuries in home-plate collisions, such as the ones Posey endured in May 2011. "I stand firm with my beliefs," Bochy said. "I think the rules should be tweaked a little bit to make sure the runner doesn't hunt the catcher when he's not near home plate or in front of home plate. ... I'll continue to say this: I don't want Buster in front of the line. I know how important he is to this team." His confidence in first baseman Brandon Belt. "I really like the progress he's made," Bochy said. "I think he's on the upward swing as far as his development. He got rushed. A year before, going up and down, I'm sure it wasn't easy for him. He didn't get a lot of time in the Minor Leagues. But a lot of his development was on the Major League level, which is not easy. I saw that happen the second half. He's made some adjustments with his swing, allowing him to get to some pitches that he wasn't able to when he first came up. ... We're going to see his numbers improve this coming year."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.