College coach defends Cousins' character

Tim Brown

When Brian Sabean speaks to Scott Cousins(notes), he will find the young man he bullied and threatened is a wonderful friend and teammate.

He will discover that Scott Cousins is the adult you'd like your own little boy to grow up like.

He will, if he bothers to ask, learn that Scott Cousins came from very little, became a standout student anyway, attended college on the merits of his baseball and desire alone, and earned his way onto that big-league ball field nearly a week-and-a-half ago.

"I think what's been overshadowed here is the character the young man has as a human being," said Nino Giarratano, Cousins' former coach at the University of San Francisco. "Look at how he's handled it. All he's done is care about what's important – Buster Posey(notes) getting healthy and Buster Posey getting back in the game."

Cousins, you can be sure, will take Sabean's call. And he'll probably accept Sabean's apology. He's that kind of kid, Giarratano said.

"The people who are talking about [Cousins]," he said, "they don't know him as a person, a teammate and a role model."

Cousins played three seasons for the Dons after Giarratano recruited him out of Reno, Nev. He had a big arm, good speed, a power bat and a good head for the game.

"And we were interested in him as a person," Giarratano said. "A lot of schools jumped off him because he didn't have the money to go to school. I thought, given time, he could blossom into a superstar here."

An outfielder and pitcher, Cousins was named USF's MVP twice.

He left by way of the third round in the 2006 draft to the Florida Marlins. Five years later, carrying a go-ahead run in extra innings, he bore down on Posey.

Since, Giarratano has spoken often to his former player. He attempted to soothe Cousins' sadness for Posey, his regret for the outcome of a play that won the Marlins a game but killed Posey's season.

"Scott, it's time to move on," he told him recently. "Buster needs to heal. And you need to get on with the season and get on with your career."

By Friday evening, the San Francisco Giants came close to apologizing for Sabean's contention that Cousins had acted maliciously, and for the particularly heartless sentiment, "If I never hear from Cousins again, or he doesn't play another day in the big leagues, I think we'll all be happy."

A statement from the Giants reported that Sabean's comments came from "frustration and out of true concern for Buster and were not meant to vilify Scott Cousins."

But, of course they were.

Cousins responded, "I hope and believe that Mr. Sabean's comments were made in the heat of the moment and are based more on his fondness for Buster Posey than on any animosity towards me. This situation is still an open wound for many, including myself. As I have stated previously, nobody outside of Buster feels worse about his injury than I do.

"I have a responsibility to myself, my teammates, and my organization to play the game hard. This is what has gotten me to the big leagues, and hopefully this is what will keep me here."

Meanwhile, Giarratano was on a bus to UCLA, where his Dons would play in an NCAA regional game. He'd seen the play over and over. He'd heard about the death threats and read Sabean's words.

"I feel sorry for those people," he said. "I can't tell you how disappointed I am with the statements being made about Scott. It couldn't be farther from the truth. It's just so far-fetched and preposterous."

Finally, he is struck by the aftermath of the play. You want to know Scott Cousins? Watch the video. As he lay tangled with Posey, the ball having rolled free, Cousins reached out to console the catcher.

"He said, 'Let me help you,' " Giarratano said. "You want to judge somebody's character? That's it right there. That's Scott."

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