SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For the second year in a row, the Giants will spend this spring trying to figure out the future of the catching position in the post-Buster Posey era. But Posey, now a minority owner, is still making his impact felt.
In fact, leading up to camp, Posey spared nearly an hour sharing some words of wisdom with one newcomer hoping to capitalize on the uncertainty behind the plate. It was Blake Sabol, who connected with Posey as one of at least a dozen phone calls after the Giants acquired him in December’s Rule 5 draft.
“I was really lucky last week,” Sabol said. “I got to talk with Buster on the phone for about 45 minutes. Really just asked him all these different questions, which was a really cool opportunity.”
The phone call was one of many lined up by Sabol and the Giants immediately following the Rule 5 draft. Manager Gabe Kapler has been clear that, though Sabol can also play the outfield and first base, he is being evaluated as one of the four catchers competing for two spots on the Opening Day roster. And part of being a receiver is relationships.
So, Sabol got a head start.
“We wanted him to talk to everybody and get to know everybody and I said have you talked to Buster yet?” Kapler said. “He said he’d love to, and they ended up talking.”
In addition to Posey, Sabol connected with “the majority” of the pitching staff, he said. The hardest to reach: Sean Manaea, who apologized profusely when they ran in to each other here, and John Brebbia, the gregarious reliever who told him, actually, email is better.
But Posey had specific pieces of advice regarding two pitchers on staff.
Alex Cobb has suggested that, with the pitch clock coming this year and the PitchCom system introduced last season, he could call his own game. Let him, Posey said, but just make sure to touch base in the dugout — and maybe incorporate a little humor.
“In the dugout when you talk to him, just try to get on the same page there,” Sabol said. “And throw a joke in every now and then, like, I knew we should’ve gone there, should’ve went with the heater.”
Sabol relayed Posey’s other message to Logan Webb in the sauna.
“I was like ‘Hey, Buster says if you give me a hard time, he’s gonna come down here and get you for me,’” Sabol said with a laugh. “(Posey) said his line is always open for me, so I’ll definitely be using him as a resource.”
The Giants are still attempting to finalize plans to bring in Posey and other former players, such as Barry Bonds, to camp as special instructors.
The only one confirmed so far is Hunter Pence, who will primarily work with the mental skills staff but will also roam the complex.
“He could be in part a support system to Shayna Alexander and Harvey Martin, the people that are focusing on less between the lines related things and more shoulders up stuff. Hunter could be great in that regard,” Kapler said. “We’re going to introduce him in that way but he’s also going to just roam around and get in where he fits in. We just trust him to make an impact in his own way. We’re not going to structure things for him.”