San Francisco Giants Put Posey on the DL, Recall Experienced Backup

Apr 2, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey against the Arizona Diamondbacks during opening day at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 2, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey against the Arizona Diamondbacks during opening day at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

After a very scary sight during the home opener, the San Francisco Giants have DL’ed Buster Posey and recalled Tim Federowicz in his absence.

Monday’s home opener at AT&T Park was supposed to be a great day, where baseball was back at 24 Willie Mays Plaza and the Giants began another season of chasing the ultimate goal, hoping to bring home their fourth ring of the decade. Those good feelings were pushed away in the first inning, when the San Francisco Giants and their fans watched superstar catcher and face of the franchise, Buster Posey, take a 94-mile-per-hour fastball off his helmet, sending him to the ground in a heap.

After regaining his facilities on the ground and returning to his feet, Posey was immediately pulled from the game and replaced by his new understudy, Nick Hundley.

Pitcher Matt Moore put more good feelings in fans’ minds with eight stellar innings on the mound and a bases-clearing, two-base, go-ahead error as a hitter, but those thoughts soon turned again to Posey. Updates were scarce during the game, but news was good right after Mark Melancon recorded the 27th out. Posey wasn’t experiencing any symptoms at that point, leading to hope that he had avoided the worst case scenario.

Even with Tuesday’s news that Posey would head to the seven-day disabled list, a shortened version of the disabled list specialized for concussions, it still seems the Giants have avoided the worst case scenario. He felt some symptoms Tuesday morning, and would not have been able to play, facilitating the need for the Giants to make this move. The team (any team, for that matter) can’t afford to play with only one catcher for any semi-extended period of time

Posey said he feels “pretty good overall“, and is optimistic that he won’t miss any longer than the seven days he has to spend on the disabled list. That’s great news, but we can’t look ahead yet. Head injuries are incredibly difficult to gauge, and symptoms sometimes don’t fully show themselves until days after the initial injury. From recent memory, Joe Panik, Brandon Belt, and Gregor Blanco can all attest to that.

The Giants are playing it cautious with Posey, and that is for the best. This will give Posey a chance to immediately rest after the injury, and will also prevent any potential setbacks on the field. Any foul tip to the mask, or backswing that drifts just a bit too far back and catches Posey in the head can spell something very dangerous.

In Posey’s absence, catcher Tim Federowicz will take his spot on the roster as Trevor Brown, a catcher already on the 40-man roster, is on the new 10-day disabled list. The 29-year-old Federowicz is no stranger to catching at the big league level, having spent parts of five seasons in the show. He was with the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2011 to 2014, and spent time last season with the Chicago Cubs, earning himself a World Series ring.

His offensive numbers aren’t great in the big leagues, with a .194/.243/.295 slash-line and 30.3 percent strikeout rate in 106 games, but he had an outstanding Spring Training and has had plenty of success at the higher minor league levels in recent years. This past Cactus League schedule, Federowicz hit .323/.417/.645 with seven doubles and a home run in 21 games. In his career at Triple-A, he owns a .304/.375/.511 slash-line with 91 doubles and 50 home runs over 329 games.

Federowicz is known as good receiver behind the plate, and has a very strong arm. He’s caught 35 percent of potential base-thieves in his major league career, including throwing out 10 of 23 (43 percent) in 2014.

But with Posey out, the most likely outcome will be that everyone will slide up one place on the catcher’s depth chart. Hundley will take over on a mostly everyday basis with Federowicz serving as his backup. Hundley has plenty of experiencing as a starter, with at least 50 games started every season since his debut in 2008. Over the last four seasons, he has averaged more than 80 starts per season.

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In order to make room for Federowicz on the 40-man roster, Clayton Blackburn was designated for assignment. Blackburn had an outstanding season at Triple-A in 2015, winning the Pacific Coast League’s ERA title, and was even briefly called up in 2016, though he didn’t get into a game. But his 2016 Triple-A season was a step backwards, and other pitchers have moved ahead of him on the depth chart. Blackburn is a very likely candidate to be picked up by a National League bottom feeder that has an open spot in the rotation to try out a young kid.