Saturday, December 4 2021

Why Posey’s resurgence doesn’t surprise ex-Giant Romo originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

OAKLAND — A few minutes after Sergio Romo walked back to the home clubhouse on Friday afternoon, Buster Posey emerged from the batting cage in center field at the Coliseum and made the long trek back to the dugout. Whenever those two share a field, it’s impossible not to think about what they once accomplished together.

The fastball right down the heart of the plate. The stunned look on Miguel Cabrera’s face. The Buster Hug on the mound in Detroit that set off the celebration of the second title in three years. 

It was an improbable moment, and the two now are working on something possibly even harder to believe. Nine years after they combined for the final out of the 2012 season, Posey and Romo are not just still playing, they’re still playing at levels that match anything they’ve previously done in the big leagues. 

Posey has a .951 OPS and 15 homers, the kind of production he put up in that 2012 season, when he was the NL MVP. Romo has a 3.06 ERA and is still averaging more than a strikeout per inning. In his last 20 appearances, he has allowed one run.

Posey is 34 years old. Romo turned 38 in March, and while he’s now on his sixth big league team, he still keeps an eye on his first one. 

“I’m happy for them. I really, really am,” he said, smiling as he sat in the visiting dugout and watched batting practice. “I’m pulling for them because I feel this (Giants) team has a lot of the teams that we were on before. We accomplished a lot of stuff and were not necessarily counted in from the get go, not expected to do a whole lot, but the belief in that clubhouse shows in the way they play.”

Romo is not just a longtime big leaguer occasionally checking in on old teammates. Before he was an All-Star closer, he was a fan of the game, and he’s well aware of what’s going on across the bridge. 

Romo was thrilled to see Brandon Crawford get rewarded with a new two-year contract and hopes to see Brandon Belt stay in San Francisco longer, as well. He credited Giants manager Gabe Kapler for the tone he sets, and raved about Logan Webb, a young right-hander who is displaying the moxie that made Romo so successful and popular in San Francisco.

And then there’s Posey, who broke into the big leagues a year after Romo and was behind the plate for all of his greatest moments. The baseball world might be surprised by what Posey is accomplishing this year, but Romo is not. 

“I’ve seen it before. I’ve seen that guy, I’ve seen that man show up every day, I’ve seen him prepare,” Romo said. “He’s one of the most well-prepared guys every day, day in and day out.”

Romo was happy to see Posey take a year off, not just because he spent time with his growing family, but because it allowed him to reset physically.

“He looks really strong. He looks very full and very fit, a lot leaner,” Romo said. “He’s always been athletic — this is a guy who played nine positions in one game before, athleticism was never the question — but he looks really (strong) right now.

“I’m happy for him and Kristen and his kids who get to see him smile and enjoy playing baseball and enjoy being the competitor that he is. When I was on the team it was easy to say that he’s straight and narrow and didn’t talk a whole lot, but now you watch him and you see excitement, you see emotion.”

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Romo paused and laughed. 

“If this is what Buster Posey looks like as the ‘salty vet,’ wow, that’s impressive,” he said. 

Posey is in his 12th year, but Romo, a 28th-round pick in 2005, is finishing up his 14th. His fastball averages 86 mph, but he still has that slider, and he knows more about setting up hitters than just about anyone in a big-league uniform. That showed Friday night, as the A’s shut down the Giants late.

Romo pitched the eighth, as he has done in so many wins over the years. He needed just 10 pitches — seven sliders — to get through the inning, the lone blemish being Posey’s single. Posey nodded toward the mound when he walked up to the plate, and after the single, Romo smiled and pretended to show his displeasure.

Romo then got back on the mound and threw another slider that another former teammate, Belt, flied softly to left.  “I’m still tricking them,” he had said before the game, laughing as he got up from his seat in the dugout. All these years later, Posey sees something else. 

“Obviously I played with him forever and I just know the competitive nature that he has and that’s the No. 1 thing I would attribute it to,” he said. “Put all the stuff aside, when he’s out there on the mound he’s going to find a way. I think that’s what’s kept him around for so long.”

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