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Buster Posey progressing with rehab, but says ankle isn’t yet 100 percent

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Buster Posey still expects to be ready for the start of the season, but he told Rael Enteen of CSNBayArea.com during Giants’ media day yesterday that his surgically-repaired left ankle is “not 100 percent yet.”

“The games will be a whole new level and I’m excited to see how [my ankle] responds,” Posey said Friday. “I think it will respond well but it’s a long season, whether you’re 100 percent healthy or not…I’m happy with where I am and I’m optimistic for having a good, healthy season.”

Posey is currently working his way back from three torn ligaments in his left ankle and a fractured leg suffered in a nasty home plate collision with Marlins’ outfielder Scott Cousins last May. While the 24-year-old still deals with some soreness in the mornings, the good news is that he said the ankle feels good from the crouch position.

On a related note, Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports that Giants manager Bruce Bochy and general manager Brian Sabean are already talking about playing Posey at first base once a week, if not more, in order to keep his bat in the lineup and lessen his workload behind the plate.

“The work’s been done,” Sabean said. “(Trainer Dave) Groeschner has been pleased with where they are. But we’ll be very conscious and diligent about what his schedule will be gamewise. At the finish line is to get him ready to be the opening-day catcher and then to figure from there how many games he can catch.

“But that will evolve as we see the workload and what that ankle can tolerate. Because everything he does is weight bearing, whether it’s shifting or throwing or blocking.”

Posey started 31 games at first base during his rookie season in 2010, mostly due to the presence of Bengie Molina, and made two starts there prior to last year’s season-ending injury. If the Giants truly intend to play him at first base at least once a week, one wonders whether Brandon Belt will be Fresno-bound to begin the season.

Shohei Otani may come to the United States after 2017

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Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?

Now, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Fighters are set to post Shotei Otani following the 2017 season. Passan says that his sources have told him that there are potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Shohei Otani and he links a Japanese article from Sponichi which says the Fighters would post him after the 2017 season.

It’d be interesting to see what that loophole is. Without knowing the exact terms of the CBA on this score it’s impossible to know, but one possibility is that there are different rules applicable to those with professional experience in other countries as opposed to amateur free agents.

Whatever the case, the notion that we could see Otani in the U.S. at age 23 or 24 is pretty exciting.

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.

Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.

The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.