SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants have been a model of stability for the bulk of Buster Posey’s Major League career, but he saw that stream of continuity disrupted by significant organizational change this offseason.
For the first time in his career, he’ll play for a manager other than Bruce Bochy. When pitchers and catchers report to Scottsdale, Ariz., on Tuesday, he’ll no longer share a clubhouse with longtime batterymate Madison Bumgarner. And with the exception of third-base coach Ron Wotus, he’ll have an entirely new coaching staff to get to know.
With the Giants coming off three consecutive losing seasons, Posey can’t help but feel a degree of responsibility for the winter of upheaval.
“Ultimately, it kind of hurts as a player, because it kind of falls on us,” Posey said Friday. “You understand that the reason those [coaches] didn’t keep their jobs was because we didn’t play well enough. Because, really, that’s what it boils down to. If we’re rolling off 90-95 wins, we’re not having the changes. But, clearly, we need to make some changes.”
Posey candidly admits that he, too, needs to evolve after enduring a career-worst offensive season in 2019. The 32-year-old veteran batted .257 with a .688 OPS and seven home runs over 114 games, a significant decline from the All-Star production he consistently delivered earlier in his career.
“I feel pressure because I wasn’t happy with the way I played last year,” Posey said. “I want to prove to myself that I can get back to producing offensively. You sometimes have this nagging thought: ‘Can you? Can you do that again?’ That, to me, is the pressure and the challenge of getting back to feeling like I am producing at that level.”
Posey has an idea of the kind of mechanical adjustments he’d like to implement this season, and he’s looking forward to sitting down with new hitting coaches Donnie Ecker, Justin Viele and Dustin Lind in Arizona next week to hear their feedback as well.
“There are some things that I think can help,” Posey said. “I think having a few sets of different eyes will be helpful as well.”
Posey also stands to benefit from improved health this year. He spent last offseason rehabbing from August 2018 hip surgery, and while he returned in time to start behind the plate for the Giants on Opening Day, he was still dealing with some physical challenges last spring.
“The way my hip feels right now compared to last year is night and day,” Posey said. “This time last year, I was having a hard time running. I’m running sprints four days a week now. Just from a strength standpoint, I think that’s helpful as well.”
Posey said he’s excited by the additions of newcomers Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly to the Giants’ rotation, though he acknowledged that it will be strange to no longer catch Bumgarner, who signed a five-year, $85 million deal with the D-backs in December.
“It’ll be tough not seeing him in a Giants uniform, for sure,” Posey said. “He’s obviously meant so much to the organization and to the fan base. He was one of the first guys I met when I signed. He was probably 18, maybe, so a lot of good memories with him. The silver lining is that I get to compete against one of the fiercest competitors in the game. And having caught him for over a decade, it’ll be interesting to be on the other side of it. I’m sure he’s looking forward to it, just like I am.”