New Giants catcher Casali shares common ground with Posey originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Curt Casali lived with Mike Yastrzemski last spring and watched every morning as Yastrzemski made the short trip to Scottsdale Stadium while he began the 45-minute drive across the valley to the Cincinnati Reds' facility in Goodyear. Casali, who signed with the Giants last week, would have fit right in with the catchers Yastrzemski was working out with every day.
Casali had the left labrum in his hip repaired a day after the 2018 season, and a year earlier he had undergone surgery on his right hip. Last spring, the Giants watched closely as Buster Posey appeared to finally be back at full strength following his own 2018 hip surgery. Backup catcher candidate Aramis Garcia was on crutches every day as he went through rehab for his labrum surgery.
Catchers always share a special bond, particularly when they've been through the same daily pain. On a Zoom call with reporters last Tuesday, Casali said he spoke to Posey about hip surgery in the batter's box during a game in 2018. Casali is confident that his new teammate, who rushed to get back for the start of the 2019 season and then missed last season, is poised for a big comeback.
"Those particular surgeries really changed the course of my career in an upward fashion," Casali said. "I would expect similar things for him, not that he needs any more accolades."
Posey's first full season back didn't produce big numbers. He had the worst OPS of his career and hit just seven homers in 2019. But after that season, team officials acknowledged that it might have been a mistake for Posey to be in the lineup on Opening Day. He pushed hard to get ready so soon after major surgery, but he never looked right during the year.
The Giants saw a stronger and more fluid Posey last spring, but he never got to test things out in a real game. Posey opted out of the 2020 season to be with his twin daughters, but he'll be back this season as the Opening Day starter, with Casali now set as his backup.
The Giants were optimistic about Posey last spring and feel even better now that he's had a full year to rest his body. As much as people focus on games, Casali said it was just as important that he was able to train properly after years of dealing with pain. Posey has been able to do that this offseason, and he's been a regular this offseason at Oracle Park, where he ran into Casali while the newest Giant was taking his physical.
"I can't speak to exactly what he's feeling but personally the ability to work out with a healthy body is a gamechanger," he said. "Every time I squatted I felt like a knife was jabbing me in my groin. That's exactly what it felt like. When you're in pain constantly it's exhausting because you're constantly having to mentally overcome how that feels. When you're exhausted you're not as powerful, you're not as strong, you're not able to do things that you're normally able to do.”