AT&T PARK — Though he’s flying out to Colorado on Sunday to have season-ending hip surgery on Monday, San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey is available to pinch hit and even spell Nick Hundley behind the plate on Saturday against the Texas Rangers, according to manager Bruce Bochy.
“He’s available to play. If something happened with Nick he would catch,” Bochy said. “He’s available to come off the bench and hit, or else we would have a catcher here today. He’s good to go as far as coming off the bench.”
Posey will undergo an arthroscopic hip clean-out surgery by Dr. Marc Philipon in Vail, Colorado — involving labrum repair and bone spur removal — with the hope that the hip inflammation that’s sapped his power this season won’t be a problem once he returns in 2019.
“We all know how important Buster is to our club, behind the plate, in the lineup, but unfortunately you have to deal with this,” Bochy said. “I think we’re doing the right thing by getting this taken care of so we can have him ready for next year. I think it showed what a warrior he was battling through this all year. Having to deal with the injury, no question, it affected him.”
This season, Posey has posted his worst batting average, fewest RBIs and fewest home runs since an injury-shortened 2011 campaign, his worst on-base percentage since 2010 and his lowest slugging percentage in a full season in his career.
“The fact is we had to get this done and get him right for next year,” Bochy said. “Really it came to a point, whether you think you’re in it or not, we have to get him right and get him healthy. I know he’s looking forward to getting this behind him. We expect him to be full go next year.”
Devin Mesoraco had the same hip surgery Posey will undergo, in July of 2016. He has recovered and played in 78 games this year between the Cincinnati Reds and New York Mets.
“He had a procedure done and he’s catching fine,” Bochy said. “He feels great from what I hear. It’s something that needs to be taken care of. It’s the wear and tear of playing the game that’s caught up with [Posey] a little bit. Like I said, when we get this thing rehabbed and I know Buster’s going to be happy to have this behind him.”
Once Posey does go on the disabled list, the Giants are expected to call up Aramis Garcia to back up Hundley the rest of the season. Given that Posey’s rehab time will be between seven and nine months — the latter putting his comeback during the regular season — it’s been speculated that Garcia could see a lot of time as San Francisco looks to see what it has in the 24-year old, 2014 second-round draft pick.
“Nick and Garcia are both going to catch,” Bochy said. “Nick’s going to get some playing time but that’s not the thinking, we’re going to push him to get a longer look at him. We’re still in the business of winning games. Nick will help Garcia as far as mentoring him. When he catches he’ll be there to help us work with him. He’s going to get his time.”
Garcia hit .233 with Double-A Richmond this season in 80 games, before being moved up to Triple-A Sacramento. With the River Cats, Garcia has hit .237 in 10 games, with a double and four RBIs. He’s thrown out four of eight men who have tried to steal on him in Triple-A.
Garcia is currently ranked as the Giants’ No. 15 prospect overall, and the No. 2 catcher prospect in the organization behind No. 2 overall pick in 2018, Joey Bart. Bart, widely believed to be Posey’s heir apparent, has only just started play in the organization.
“[Garcia will] get a chance to get some playing time. You’re talking about a guy that doesn’t have that much time in AAA,” Bochy said. “As long as Nick is fine and good to go he’s going to get a lot of playing time. He’s done a great job for us. He deserves this.”
Right-handed pitcher Jeff Samardzija is going to get another opinion on his right shoulder. He reportedly felt pain in his shoulder during a four-inning rehab start for Double-A Richmond on Wednesday.
“Jeff is going to get another opinion, a second opinion,” Bochy said. “Right now it’s recommended rest. Until we get a second opinion that’s all we’re going to do. He’s not going to throw for a while. I can’t tell you how long until he gets a second opinion then we’ll know exactly what we are going to do.”
Samardzija started the season on the disabled list with a strained pectoral muscle, and is currently in his second stay on the disabled list due to shoulder stiffness. He’s made just 10 starts this season, most recently on July 14, and has a 6.25 ERA.
The Giants commemorated the 2010 World Series team before the game on Saturday, with the team they beat — the Texas Rangers — in town for the second of three interleague games.
Posey and Pablo Sandoval — who returned to the clubhouse in a jovial mood after hamstring surgery — were present, of course, along with Andres Torres, Freddy Sanchez, Pat Burrell, Cody Ross, Brian Wilson, Jeremy Affeldt, Matt Cain and Edgar Renteria, who came on to the field clutching the trophy. Aubrey Huff was slated to attend, but his flight was delayed.