San Francisco Giants catcher and Lee County native Buster Posey watches his home run ball clear the fence during the third inning of their game Sunday against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix. Posey hit his first home run since returning from an injury that cost him most of last season.
SAN FRANCISCO — With his name nowhere to be found on the injury report Monday, it wasn’t exactly clear at first why Buster Posey was benched by the San Francisco Giants’ for their series opener against the Colorado Rockies for backup catcher Hector Sanchez.
As it turned out, it’s all a part of the Giants’ newfound “Posey Strategy” that’s designed to limit the number of games the Lee County native and 2010 NL Rookie of the Year plays in 2012 after he missed two-thirds of the 2011 campaign with a season-ending left leg injury.
“One of the reasons Hector’s here is he’s not a guy you pinch-hit for,” Bochy told mlb.com. “Posey is available to pinch-hit, but unless I have to, I won’t put him behind the plate” as the Giants try to rest him periodically.
Posey played three straight games Friday-Sunday and looked sharp offensively with four hits, including a two-run homer Sunday during a 7-6 loss to Arizona. But his defense has struggled early on as he tries to get reacclimated to playing regular-season games for the first time in almost a year. Sunday against the Diamondbacks, he overthrew a steal attempt, missed what appeared to be a makeable foul-ball popup catch, missed another throw on a sacrifice bunt and then was charged with an error after failing to touch the plate during a play at home that allowed the game-winning run to score.
Sanchez played well Monday in Posey’s absence, going 2-for-5 with an RBI during a 7-0 Giants win.
MARLINS TELL GUILLEN TO COME HOME FOR CASTRO APOLOGY:
MIAMI — Five games into his tenure with the Marlins, motor mouth manager Ozzie Guillen is returning to Miami to explain himself as a backlash builds regarding favorable comments he made about Fidel Castro.
At least two local officials said Guillen should lose his job, and the chairman of the Florida Hispanic Legislative Caucus called Monday for “punitive measures” against him.
Hoping to quell the political tumult, Guillen left his team briefly in Philadelphia and fly to Miami to apologize today at Marlins Park. The Marlins and Phillies resume their series Wednesday after a day off today.
Guillen, a Venezuelan, told Time magazine he loves Castro and respects the Cuban dictator for staying in power so long.
Before Monday’s game, Guillen said he has had sleepless nights because of his comments and wants to make amends.
“I’m going to make everything clear what’s going on,” he said.
He apologized over the weekend after the story broke, but some Cuban Americans remained upset. One group planned a demonstration today.
Guillen’s talkative style often makes headlines, but the timing of his comments about Castro couldn’t be worse for the Marlins. They opened a new ballpark last week in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami and are trying to rebuild their fan base with the help of South Florida’s large Cuban American population.
Francis Suarez, chairman of the Miami city commission, said Guillen should be fired.
“Mr. Guillen’s admiration for a dictator who has destroyed the lives of so many and who has violated the basic human rights of millions is shameful,” Suarez said in a statement. “On behalf of many angry residents, I’m calling for real action to be taken and for the removal of Mr. Guillen.”
Joe Martinez, chairman of the Miami-Dade County board of commissioners, issued a statement calling for Guillen to resign.
“This unfortunate comment is an insult to the citizens of Miami-Dade who have been victims of a tyrant in power for over 50 years,” Martinez said.
But the backlash didn’t stop there.
State Sen. Rene Garcia, chairman of the Florida Hispanic Legislative Caucus, described Guillen’s comments as appalling and insulting. In a letter to Marlins president David Samson, Garcia said he expects the Marlins to punish Guillen.
“If the Miami Marlins are to be respected in this community, your organization must stand with the Cuban-American exiled community and execute expedient punitive measures against Mr. Guillen which will rectify the situation,” Garcia wrote.
Samson and the Marlins organization had no comment Monday. The team released a statement last weekend saying there was nothing to respect about Castro, but Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said the statement didn’t go far enough.
“For too long, the Marlins organization has been the source of controversies in our community,” Gimenez said, “and I now challenge them to take decisive steps to bring this community back together.”
Guillen said his news conference would be open to “anybody that wants to be there.”
“I know I hurt a lot of people,” Guillen said. “I want to get the thing over with.”
It’s not the first time Guillen has stirred a political tempest. He twice appeared on a radio show hosted by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in October 2005, when Guillen led the Chicago White Sox to the World Series title. At the time, Guillen said: “Not too many people like the president. I do.”
Chavez is unpopular with many Venezuelans, especially those living in the United States. Guillen became a U.S. citizen in 2006 and has been more critical of Chavez in recent years.
RANGERS' $100M MAN SHAKY IN FIRST START:
ARLINGTON, Texas — Yu Darvish pitched into the sixth inning of his much-anticipated major league debut for the Texas Rangers, retiring 10 batters in a row after a rough start and leaving with the lead as the Rangers went on to win, 11-5.
Texas led 8-5 when Darvish came out of the game, which started with the right-hander allowing four runs and four hits with three walks in his first inning Monday night against Seattle.
After No. 9 batter Brendan Ryan was hit by a pitch with one out in the third, Darvish retired 10 in a row before walking Dustin Ackley with two outs in the sixth. He then gave up a single to Ichiro Suzuki before Alexi Ogando took over and got a strikeout.
Darvish struck out five and walked four while throwing 59 of his 110 pitches for strikes. He gave up eight hits.
When manager Ron Washington replaced him, Darvish got a loud ovation from the crowd that was also chanting “Yuuuuuuu!” Darvish walked off without acknowledging the cheers.
Darvish started the game by walking Seattle leadoff hitter Chone Figgins on four pitches. Before Figgins hit into a first inning-ending groundout, the Mariners already had a 4-0 lead. That included a four-pitch walk with the bases loaded to Munenori Kawasaki, an eight-time All-Star in Japan who was the only Mariner to previously face Darvish.
After Texas scored twice in the first off Hector Noesi, Seattle got another run off Darvish in the second for a 5-2 lead. Suzuki had a double and scored on a double by Kyle Seager, who also had a two-run single in the first.
Nelson Cruz hit a three-run homer in the third for Texas, and Mitch Moreland and Josh Hamilton homered the next inning for the 8-5 lead.
Two-time defending American League champion Texas in January committed more than $107 million, including Darvish’s guaranteed $56 million, six-year contract, to acquire Japan’s top pitcher. The 25-year-old Darvish was 93-38 with a 1.99 ERA in 167 games in Japan’s Pacific League the past seven seasons.