Bochy approves of Posey's Classic plans

Giants manager open-minded about how to use new closer Melancon

Bochy approves of Posey's Classic plans

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Buster Posey has Giants manager Bruce Bochy's blessing to represent the United States in the World Baseball Classic this spring.

"I'm fine with it," Bochy said Tuesday at baseball's Winter Meetings. "If Buster wants to do it, I'm good with it. It's obvious he's got to get himself ready a little sooner than he normally would."

Physical wear and tear is a hazard of participating in the WBC, as the Giants learned in 2013 when several of their players endured injuries to varying degrees after the international tournament.

However, Posey likely will share catching duties with a couple of other receivers. He also can play first base, as he does for the Giants when Bochy wants to keep his bat in the lineup while sparing him from the grueling toll of catching.

Leyland on Team USA roster

Other Giants who might play in the WBC include shortstop Brandon Crawford, who was named to the United States' provisional roster last week; right-hander Johnny Cueto, who's a candidate to pitch for the Dominican Republic; and right-hander Albert Suarez, a possible member of Venezuela's pitching staff.

"Any time you can promote the game, you want to do your part," Bochy said. "And we want to be ambassadors to the game any way we can as far as the San Francisco Giants, and that's providing players for the Classic. And I know the U.S. team is trying to improve and show some pride and win this thing, and I think the players feel like that and that's why they want to be part of it.

"We have to make sure they're ready, and I have a great training staff and conditioning staff that will make sure they're ready to go so we don't have any risk of injury."

Bochy addressed other subjects, including:

• Using new closer Mark Melancon for four outs or more, if necessary, during save attempts:

"I would like to talk with him about that," Bochy said. "There are times when you use a closer maybe for four or five outs, but I need to sit down with him. For the most part, he's going to pitch the ninth. If it's something that he's capable of doing or is comfortable doing, we would like to stay open-minded about it."

Bochy on adding Melancon

• Establishing the other relievers' roles relatively early in Spring Training:

"We do want to have this set early in the spring," Bochy said. "I would like to stay away from, 'All right, we're competing for this,' because I want these guys getting ready in the spring and I want them using all their pitches."

• San Francisco's batting order, which appears flexible given the ability of several Giants regulars to hit in different spots:

"I think a lot about it," Bochy said. "We put [Brandon] Belt in that two-hole there toward the end, and he's an on-base guy who gets a lot of walks. So whether I do that or not, I'm not going to [set] my order right now, but you've got [Joe] Panik and Hunter [Pence] healthy. You look at [left-field candidates Jarrett] Parker and [Mac] Williamson. Whoever we go with there, do you want to hit them eighth, or do you want to protect them a little bit? If you do, who hits eighth? So these things cross my mind quite a bit."

Bochy on team's further needs

• Deposed closer Santiago Casilla, who's a free agent:

"I would welcome him back," Bochy said. "He's going to have some options. It's going to be up to him. He was our closer, and I didn't put him in those high-leverage situations toward the end. He probably wasn't real excited about that, to be honest, but he's a great team player, teammate, with his change of role. But certainly wouldn't rule it out because he still has great stuff. And he had some hiccups there in that closing role, but I would take him anytime."

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.