Giants need Buster Posey to perform

Can Posey find a way to elevate his game even when August arrives and it's hot and humid and he's gassed from all that squatting and punishment behind the plate? Bochy has tried to keep him fresh by giving him 14 starts at first base, and Posey is aware of all the options available to help him compensate for fatigue. But he typically refrains from switching to a lighter bat in August and September or cutting down on the weightlifting to a noticeable degree. The exhilaration of playing for a contending team is enough to push him across the finish line.

"I've been in it when we were right in the middle of the race, and last year when we weren't," Posey said. "It makes it much, much easier when you're competing for the division and you get in the playoffs. The aches and the fatigue don't seem as magnified when you have that final goal in mind."

A small fraternity

Good two-way catchers are awfully hard to find these days. Lucroy, who's in the NL MVP discussion, certainly qualifies. Yadier Molina obviously did before he went down for eight to 12 weeks with a thumb injury. Salvador Perez has been to two All-Star Games at age 24, and Mesoraco and Derek Norris have put up impressive numbers in a little more than 200 at-bats each this summer. Brian McCann also belongs in the conversation, even though he's had a slow adjustment period in his transition from Atlanta to New York after signing an $85 million contract with the Yankees.

Hudson, who played with McCann in Atlanta before calling Posey a teammate in San Francisco, sees similarities in the way the two catchers handle the responsibility of running a staff and producing runs in the middle of the batting order.

"It takes a special person to be able to do that," Hudson said. "These guys get beat up. They get crushed. They get hit by foul balls and foul tips, and then they might have to lead off or come up the next inning with runners in scoring position. It's such a juggling thing. But both of them are pretty great about not letting their at-bats, whether good or bad, affect how they handle their pitchers. You have to separate yourself from each deal and go about it as if you're two different players."

Despite his dual responsibilities, Posey remains the same person -- a baseball rat with old-school sensibilities and a knack for avoiding drama (that 2011 home-plate collision with Scott Cousins notwithstanding). He has a touch of Derek Jeter in him with his ability to instinctively do and say the right things and engender respect from teammates and opponents alike.

"Buster is very low-maintenance," Bochy said. "He's just a simple guy who comes out here, prepares himself well and wants to play."

The Giants have grown to love Posey for his levelheadedness and his consistency in the past 4½ seasons. If he can ratchet it up and conjure some of those 2012 memories during the next two or three months, they'll learn to love him even more.

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