The San Francisco Giants will rely heavily on Buster Posey in 2012 to carry the load on offense, which is a scary thought considering the young catcher basically had his entire ankle reconstructed about eight months ago. Fortunately for manager Bruce Bochy and the other Giants, Posey is reportedly feeling much better and is working out at a high level.
While just about everyone in baseball feels good at the beginning of February, it remains to be seen how Posey's ankle reacts once the games begin. According to Andrew Baggarly of Mercury News, even the catcher himself is anxious and unsure of what will transpire once Spring Training and the regular season arrive.
The Giants need Posey for more than his leadership or his ability behind the plate. Sure, they missed those attributes after he tore three ankle ligaments and fractured his leg in a home-plate collision May 25. But their worst-in-the-majors offense missed his cleanup-hitting presence most of all.
That's why manager Bruce Bochy and G.M. Brian Sabean already are talking about playing Posey at first base at least once a week, and possibly more, to keep his bat in the lineup. They don't expect to have a gauge on his durability as a catcher until the end of the spring.
And as for if Posey and the training staff have done their part to get as healthy and strong as possible?
"The work's been done," Sabean said. "(Trainer Dave) Groeschner has been pleased with where they are. But we'll be very conscious and diligent about what his schedule will be gamewise. At the finish line is to get him ready to be the opening-day catcher and then to figure from there how many games he can catch."
"But that will evolve as we see the workload and what that ankle can tolerate. Because everything he does is weight bearing, whether it's shifting or throwing or blocking."
It sounds like all of the work has been put in for Posey to be successful, but we simply will not know his prognosis going forward until the rigors of being a catcher catch up to him.
(Posey) is confident. But he is not foolish. There is so much uncertainty as he moves forward, knowing there are sure to be adjustments along the way.
"I try my best not to think about it," he said. "I think the main thing for me is I'm going to enjoy playing. I'm excited to be around the guys again and excited just to have the opportunity to play again. I saw how quickly it can be taken away, so I'm going to enjoy the game as much as I can."
Spring Training is less than three weeks away and the regular season will be here before you know it. Posey's health will undoubtably be the biggest storyline for the Giants throughout most of the season and their success will depend heavily on his production.
For more on Posey and the team, head on over to McCovey Chronicles.