Posey’s star gets to shine through

Giants catcher not an ordinary rookie

BUSTER POSEY .314 in postseason BUSTER POSEY
.314 in postseason
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / October 23, 2010

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PHILADELPHIA — AT&T Park public address announcer Renel Brooks-Moon, like every other fan of the San Francisco Giants, got caught up in the excitement when the team promoted Buster Posey from the minors May 29.

Her introduction of Posey when he came to the plate soon took on a different flair when compared with the other players. “Bus! . . . ter! . . . Po! . . . sey!’’ she would say, pausing between syllables of his distinctive name to the delight of the crowd.

Posey was embarrassed at the attention and quietly asked to be introduced just like everybody else. Fortunately for the Giants, their 23-year-old catcher will never be mistaken for that.

As the National League Championship Series shifts to Philadelphia for Game 6 tonight, the Giants are depending on Posey to be the player who gets them to the World Series for the first time since 2002.

Posey is 11 for 35 in the postseason, batting cleanup and handling a pitching staff that has posted a 2.52 earned run average. Closer Brian Wilson said Posey became the leader of the team within a month or two of his arrival.

“He was the guy we needed,’’ Wilson said. “A lot of things came together when Buster came up. He’s a special player, a unique guy in a lot of ways.’’

First baseman Aubrey Huff went so far as to compare Posey with Derek Jeter. “Jeter’s definitely got more money. He’s a lot skinnier and he’s a lot better of a runner. But I don’t think there’s a better righthand swing in baseball for a young player,’’ Huff said. “When he goes in slumps, they don’t last too long. He has a great idea at the plate. He’s got a 30-year-old mind-set in a 23-year-old body. He handles this pitching staff well. He’s a real talent.’’

Posey was primarily a first baseman until the Giants traded catcher Bengie Molina to the Rangers July 1. Posey responded by hitting .417 with seven homers and 24 RBIs in July. The Giants were 19 games over .500 with Posey in the lineup.

“I appreciated that they had the confidence in me to make the trade,’’ said Posey, who is uncomfortable talking about himself. “Everything that happened worked out well. It has been an unbelievable season in a lot of ways.’’

Gerald Dempsey Posey III didn’t start catching until his sophomore year at Florida State. An All-America shortstop prior to that, Seminoles coach Mike Martin thought his team needed more leadership and that would best come by having Posey behind the plate.

Posey was the fifth overall pick in the 2008 draft after hitting .467 with a .567 on-base percentage that season. In details that seem almost impossible to be true, he was raised on a farm at the end of a dirt road, made the dean’s list in college, and married his high school sweetheart, whom he met in church.

“It’s like a movie,’’ Wilson said. “ ‘The Buster Posey Story’ or something. But it’s real.’’

The challenge tonight for Posey will be guiding lefthander Jonathan Sanchez through a Philadelphia lineup that is due to break out after hitting only .209 in the first five games of the series. Sanchez allowed three runs in six innings in a 6-1 Philadelphia victory in Game 2.

Sanchez will face Roy Oswalt, who threw eight innings to beat the Giants in Game 2, then took the loss in Game 4 when he allowed a run in relief. Oswalt threw 18 pitches Wednesday, but doesn’t expect it to affect him.

“I try to pitch every game like the last one. You never know, you’re never guaranteed the next day. So it’s going to be no different,’’ Oswalt said. “Trying to attack hitters and make them beat me, not trying to put guys on. No different than any other game. It’s a must-win game, but I treat every one of them like a must-win.’’

The Giants flew here yesterday and passed on the opportunity to work out at Citizens Bank Park. Their flight was briefly delayed in San Francisco while Air Force One was taking off with President Obama aboard.

“I like the way my team has handled everything thrown at them and they’ll go out there and give it their all. And that’s all you can ask,’’ Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

Phillies righthander Roy Halladay, who strained a groin muscle on his right side in Thursday’s Game 5, is expected to be ready should the Phillies advance. “He made it clear to me. On his regular time, he said he’ll be ready to go,’’ manager Charlie Manuel said. “Our doctors and of course our trainers and everything, they’ll definitely monitor Roy. But he definitely thinks he’ll be ready to pitch.’’ . . . Bochy said he would be agreeable to using Tim Lincecum in relief tonight as well as Madison Bumgarner, Wednesday’s starter.

Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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