Posey sure to recover, but thanks to Sabean Cousins probably won't


Unfortunately, the odds are Brian Sabean will get his wish. There's not much room in the big leagues for reserve outfielders hitting .152, especially those with the kind of scars Scott Cousins is doomed to carry the rest of his life.

One day he's toiling away in anonymity, scrapping just to stay with the Florida Marlins. The next he's the villain in a drama that baseball fans will remind him of every time he's announced at the plate.

His split-second decision to bowl over Buster Posey at the plate cost the San Francisco Giants the talents of their rising young star for at least the rest of the season.

Almost lost in the ensuing uproar, though, is that it will likely cost Cousins even more.

The death threats he can handle, if only because there's little chance they are serious. Some recent comments by Sabean were very serious, though, increasing the chances that Cousins will be relegated to the baseball scrapbook only as an obscure footnote -- the guy who cost Posey most of a season.

"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," the Giants' general manager said on his weekly radio show. "He chose to be a hero, in my mind. If that's his flash of fame, that's as good as it's going to get, pal. We'll have a long memory."

It didn't take the Giants long to issue the obligatory statement of apology, but by then the damage had been done.

If Cousins wasn't already public enemy No. 1 in the Bay Area, Sabean made sure he would be.

It's tough enough for a young player to make it to the big leagues. It may be impossible for Cousins to stay there with the dirty player label Sabean has now stamped on him.

All because he was doing something ingrained on him since his days in Little League -- find a way, any way, to score.

Criticize Cousins all you want for going after Posey and the ball instead of trying to tiptoe around him to the small piece of home plate that may or may not have been open.

But the play is as much a part of baseball now as it was when Pete Rose took out Ray Fosse to score the winning run in the 1970 All-Star Game.

Every player who has ever donned the tools of ignorance understands there is risk in blocking the plate.

They accept it as part of the job, knowing that all the protection they wear may not save them from losing a collision with a runner.

Yes, Posey's injury was horrifying, even sickening.

But it doesn't change that Cousins was playing within the rules of the game on May 25 when he scored the winning run with a jarring hit that broke a bone in Posey's lower left leg and tore three ligaments in his ankle.

Posey was among those who suggested those rules should be changed in the wake of his injury so that catchers would be protected better.

Sabean weighed in too, saying that players should be required to slide into home on close plays.

Unlike Sabean, though, Posey chose to take the high road when it came to Cousins, saying he didn't want to vilify the Marlins outfielder. He went further on Saturday, issuing a statement saying that while he appreciated the support of Giants fans "in no way do I condone threats of any kind against Scott Cousins or his family."

Sabean, meanwhile, kept quiet for once as baseball decided whether to take him to task for his earlier comments.

While Posey was a star almost from the moment he donned a Giants uniform, Cousins is just a fringe player just trying to stay in the bigs.

Doing that was hard enough before -- he has only seven hits in 51 plate appearances this year -- but will be even harder now with the notoriety that will follow him from ballpark to ballpark.

Sabean didn't have to make it worse by further inflaming Giants fans.

His tough talk about long memories and short careers was pure bush league, directed toward a player who has said repeatedly that no one feels worse about Posey's injury than he does.

In the end, Posey will almost surely recover and go on to have the great career Giants fans expect from him.

Whether Cousins will ever recover from his part in the drama is not nearly as certain.

Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg@ap.org or follow him at http://twitter.com/timdahlberg.

 

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