When he was hired, Matheny had managed zero games at any level, nor had he served as a major league bench coach, another typical path to the top job. But he said he felt like every decision he would face as a manager he had already considered during his playing days.
“I think that’s one of the advantages to being a catcher, actually, because I felt like I needed to make sure I knew what I was doing every pitch,” Matheny said. “I was second-guessing myself every pitch.”
It is the position in which Posey and Molina find themselves now, studying video not only of how an opposing pitcher might face them when they’re at-bat — as almost all offensive players do — but also studying the entire opposing lineup, searching for tendencies and weaknesses that their own pitching staff might exploit. Matheny tells a story of how, when he was still playing for the Cardinals, he came across Molina as a young minor leaguer and went home to tell his wife, “I saw the kid that’s going to steal my job.”
“The thing that stood out to me was how receptive he was and how open to learn and to improve and to grow,” Matheny said.
Posey is five years younger than Molina, and so gifted offensively — his OPS of .957 trailed only five players in all of baseball — that he has had to deflect talk that he move to first base to better protect his body. (Minnesota’s Joe Mauer, the 2007 AL MVP, has also resisted moving.)
“It’s a grind,” Posey said. “You have to realize you’ll be hurt sometimes, and you have to play that way, still catch and still hit. It’s hard to explain unless you’re back there doing it.”
Now, each catcher left in the postseason can return to his dugout and find someone who knows what they’re going through — even though they may have abilities about which their managers only dreamed.
“There’s not a lot glamorous about the position, and it just makes it that much more rare that we’re talking about some very effective offensive players who grind through that position,” Matheny said. “The rigors of that position, day in and day out, physically and mentally, are really hard to describe. But I see these guys setting kind of the framework for that to change.”
Giants note: Bochy said second baseman Marco Scutaro, who suffered a left hip injury following a hard slide by St. Louis’s Matt Holliday on Monday, could be ready to play in Game 3. “He came out of this pretty good considering how hard he was hit,” Bochy said Tuesday. Scutaro remained in Game 2 after the slide, which appeared to be late, and delivered the two-run single that broke the game open. He was removed in the fifth inning.