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FRANCISCO -- The stoicism that Buster Posey and Willie McCovey share made the Giants catcher an ideal choice for the award that bears the Hall of Famer's name.
Posey received the Willie Mac Award, given annually to the player considered the most inspirational Giant. Results of the vote among players, the coaching and athletic training staffs and fans was announced Friday. McCovey, the former first baseman who slugged 521 home runs, presented Posey with a plaque before the Giants-Padres series opener.
Speaking to reporters before batting practice, Posey described winning the vote as a "great honor," given the spectrum of people involved in the voting. "Then to have your name mentioned alongside Willie McCovey's makes it even better," Posey added.
During his 22-year career, McCovey maintained a calm demeanor as he returned to the dugout whether he struck out or planted a pitch in the outfield seats. At 25, Posey already has developed similar poise.
"He's not a really flashy guy," left-hander Jeremy Affeldt said. "When he hits a homer, he just jogs around the bases. ... He's an inspiration to other players. He handles his business right and never shows whether he's struggling or not. He just goes out and plays the game. He leads by how he hits. He leads by how he catches. He leads by how he handles himself in the media and off the field. To me, kids watching him play should be inspired to play the game like he does."
Posey said he hopes that teammates regard him as "somebody the guys can look at and say I go about doing things the right way. I'm ready to play and hopefully be seen as a guy that people can come up to and bounce stuff off of that they have a question about anything. Just be the best teammate you can be."
Posey became the sixth catcher to win the Willie Mac Award, joining Bob Brenly (1984), Kirt Manwaring (1993), Benito Santiago (2001), Mike Matheny (2005) and Bengie Molina (2007, 2008). The list of other winners include some vastly respected Giants, including Matt Cain, J.T. Snow, Dave Dravecky, Mike Krukow and Joe Morgan.
"I know what kind of players and people they are, so that adds to how special it is," Posey said of the previous recipients.
Few have approached Posey's performance this year. He entered Friday batting .335 with 74 runs scored, 36 doubles, 23 home runs and 95 RBIs in 137 games, establishing himself as a National League Most Valuable Player candidate. He also leads the NL in on-base percentage (.410), is fourth in slugging percentage (.547) and is second in OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage, .957). Posey has truly thrived since the All-Star break, batting .392 with 13 homers and 52 RBIs in 60 games.
By now, most observers know of the adversity Posey has weathered. The 2010 NL Rookie of the Year sustained multiple left leg injuries in a home-plate collision with Florida's Scott Cousins on May 25, 2011, missed the rest of the season and faced months of rehabilitation.
Through his recovery, Posey never wallowed in self-pity or despair. He said that he came closest to feeling anything remotely resembling melancholy late last September, when he got "a little tired" of the physical drudgery. At that point, with head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner's blessing, Posey backed off his routine for a couple of weeks and returned feeling refreshed.
Posey may not have been born with his even disposition. But he apparently developed it early in life. He recalled pitching ineffectively in a youth league game at age 7 or 8 and "probably making faces I shouldn't have made." His father lectured him about maintaining the same emotional exterior in good times and bad on the field. Said Posey, "That story stuck with me and I think he gets some credit for that. My mom does, too. She's got the laid-back personality."