Thou Shalt Not Block Thy Plate

The San Francisco Giants have spoken with their young catcher Buster Posey about trying to block the plate on close plays at home. Manager Bruce Bochy has let it be known that their preference is for Posey to use a swipe tag rather than attempt to stand in the way of an approaching runner.

In mid-May of last year, Posey broke a bone and tore several ligaments in his leg when he was run over by Scott Cousins of the Florida Marlins while receiving a throw home from center field. The catcher was out for the remainder of the season because of the injury.

Not only did this lead to the Giants offense being further diminished, it could have contributed to San Francisco’s ill advised acquisition of Carlos Beltran, at the cost of their system’s best pitching prospect.

However, this talk with Posey is nothing new. The exact same conversation has occurred on more than one occasion during the previous two seasons.  If you ask Posey about his injury last year, and that’s exactly what Andrew Baggarly of has done, he’ll tell you that the resulting injury actually had little to do with him attempting to block the plate, and far more to do with him simply being out of position.

I want to make it clear I wasn’t blocking the plate to begin with. That’s the dicey part I guess, is figuring where you’ve got to be to somewhat avoid that. I have to be instinctual, that’s the way I play the game. I try to play off instincts.

Giants fans weren’t the only ones left wondering if Posey was better suited to play another position after the injury.

I’m not going to lie. There were some thoughts a couple of months after, well, maybe it wouldn’t be bad to move. But then the more I thought about it, I realized how much I enjoy catching. As hard as I’m going to work and have worked and am going to continue to work to get back behind the plate, I want to catch for as long as I possibly can.

While there’s little doubt as to Posey’s position this coming season, buying a lifetime supply of chest protectors and face masks may not be the most prudent move for the 24 year old.

According to Bochy:

There is going to come a point when we will certainly discuss whether it’s the right thing to make a move. “We have some good young catchers in camp – the best I’ve ever seen.

The Giants manager is referring to Tommy Joseph, Andrew Susac and Hector Sanchez, all three of which were included on Keith Law’s organizational top ten prospect list for San Francisco. Joseph was ranked the highest of the three, not only by Law, but also Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus who expects the second round draft pick out of Arizona high school in 2009 to start the year at Double A.

His progress this season could have just as much of an impact on Posey’s future positioning as Posey himself.