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Posey's leg, ankle feel fine — but now he has shingles

Leesburg native Buster Posey does a few extra pregame stretches and ices his ankle after games, but other than that, it’s business as usual in his first regular season action since last season’s injury.

Leesburg native Buster Posey does a few extra pregame stretches and ices his ankle after games, but other than that, it’s business as usual in his first regular season action since last season’s injury.

DENVER — Buster Posey understands all the fuss over his healing left leg.

Posey’s painful rash diagnosed as shingles

DENVER — Buster Posey can’t seem to catch a break. The San Francisco Giants’ star catcher and Leesburg native who missed most of last season with a broken left leg has been diagnosed with shingles.

Manager Bruce Bochy said Posey contracted a painful rash Sunday night under his left armpit, on his left side and his back. The 2010 NL Rookie of the Year was removed from the lineup for Wednesday night’s game at Colorado, with backup Hector Sanchez getting his second straight start.

“It’s been getting better every day. If we were in September he could go out there and play but with the day game tomorrow I thought let Hector have this evening and let him play tomorrow,” Bochy said. “With the shingles I don’t know if he could go both games. I guess it’s quite painful and I changed the lineup.”

Posey was available to hit, Bochy said.

Brought on by the same virus that causes chickenpox, shingles is a blistering skin rash most common in older people. It usually ends after four weeks, but one in five victims develop long-term nerve pain. Other complications include scarring and loss of vision or hearing.

Last season, former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was treated for shingles, which left his face swollen and his right eye nearly shut.

Bochy said Posey was on medication, another reason he didn’t want to put him behind the plate Wednesday night.

“With the day game tomorrow and being on medication and still feeling pretty crummy, that’s why he’s not playing,” Bochy said. “He’s (hurting) one the left side, on the armpit, on the back, on the left side. It’s a rash that looks like chickenpox.”

He really does, even if he’s asked the same questions again and again.

And when the San Francisco Giants catcher takes a day off — even a scheduled one such as Monday against Colorado — he realizes there’s bound to be more scrutiny.

Everything’s fine with the leg, right? No setbacks with the ankle, correct?

That’s simply the way it’s going to be all season long if Posey sits out, plays first base instead of catcher or is replaced late in a contest.

But the leg is indeed doing just fine. Maybe even a little better than the former star at Lee County anticipated at this point.

Late last May, Posey was out for the year when he broke a bone in his left leg and tore three ankle ligaments on a horrific collision at the plate with the Marlins’ Scott Cousins.

So far this season, Posey has hardly given the leg a second thought. Well, besides a few more pregame stretches to loosen it up and icing the ankle afterward, something he hardly ever used to do.

“I’m really happy with the way my ankle feels,” said Posey, whose team has two more games against the Rockies before their home opener Friday against Pittsburgh. “Everything is all go.”

Posey’s hitting .333 through three games and launched a homer off Arizona’s Josh Collmenter over the weekend.

Still, there’s one more test that’s waiting out there for him: The close play at the plate.

Posey got a small taste in spring training against the Texas Rangers during an exhibition game. In that March contest, Posey admitted that he might have stepped more away from the plate than in the past and put a swipe tag on Mitch Moreland that missed.

Next time, in a game that really counts, there won’t be any hesitation. There’s simply no time to think about what might happen.

“When it comes down to it, you’ve got to let your instincts take over,” Posey said. “The main thing was to make sure I was prepared this spring with my positioning.”

Being without Posey last season certainly hurt the Giants. He was an important piece during their run to a World Series title in 2010, as much for his ability to handle the pitching staff as to produce clutch hits.

Having him back in the lineup is a boon for aces Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain.

To ensure the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year doesn’t wear down, Giants manager Bruce Bochy has a definitive plan in mind.

Namely, days off whenever Posey needs them and the occasional start at first base to cut down on the constant rigors of catching.

“We check on him every game, to see how he’s doing,” Bochy said. “I don’t know if we need to do that anymore. He feels fine.

“But we have a pretty good idea how we’re going to run this. As we get into it, no days off for two weeks, let’s say, he’s going to mix in a game at first. He still needs a day off; that’s not a day off.”

The Giants also have a reliable backup in Hector Sanchez, who has rapidly risen through the team’s minor-league system to make his first Opening Day roster this season.

Last year, Sanchez split time between Single-A San Jose and Triple-A Fresno, hitting a combined .285 with 12 homers and 84 RBIs. After a late call-up with San Francisco, Sanchez spent the winter honing his swing in the Venezuelan winter league, where he had the second-best average (.339) and finished fourth in RBI (39).

And Bochy won’t hesitate to put Sanchez in the lineup.

“He can handle the bat. He showed that last year, both in Fresno and when we called him up,” Bochy said. “He has a good idea of what he’s doing up there.”

Bochy is all about bringing along his younger players at a speed they can handle. He knows when hold back.

“We’ve got the season ahead of us,” he said. “I don’t anybody putting too much pressure on themselves too early.”