During his six years with the Giants, George Kontos earned a reputation as Everyday George. Bruce Bochy knew that Kontos had one of his more durable arms and always wanted the ball, and that led to the right-hander regularly ranking among the Giants leaders in appearances and seemingly warming up in the middle innings every night.
Kontos appeared 73 times during the 2015 season and warmed up so often that during the final game of that season, one of the team's trainers told him he had gotten loose or entered the game an astounding 119 times, which means there are few people who are more familiar than Kontos with what the Giants will lack without Buster Posey on the field. On this week's Giants Talk, Kontos looked back at all those appearances -- 300 in all with the Giants, including 171 with Posey behind the plate -- and said it's clear to him what they'll be missing in 2022.
"I've said this for a long time and I felt this when I was a player and a teammate of his: He was the leader of that team. That was his team. People, regardless of who they were -- Craw, Belt, Hunter Pence, all those guys -- they kind of always looked over to see how Buster was reacting to things," Kontos said. "He had an energy very similar to Bochy's. Whether we were up by a bunch or down by a bunch, until the last out was made he is locked in, and that's an attitude that really is cohesive.
"You're up by 10, you're like, 'okay, the job is not finished.' You're down by 10, you're like, 'okay, we can still claw back.' That, I think, is what's going to be the biggest thing (missed) is his presence as the leader of the team."
Posey took on that role pretty much right away, and for more than a decade, the Giants counted on him to set the tone. There is still plenty of leadership in the clubhouse, with the Brandons, Evan Longoria, Wilmer Flores, Jake McGee and plenty of other veterans returning from a team that won 107 games, but there's no doubt the Giants will have a huge void to fill now that Posey has announced his retirement.
The Giants are expected to add a right-handed bat or two once the lockout ends, which will help lessen the sting for the lineup. But it'll be up to rookie Joey Bart and returning backup Curt Casali to try and replicate what Posey brought to the squat.
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"Throwing to Buster is easy," Kontos said. "You know that he's prepared, regardless of how prepared you are, you know he understands what's going on."
Kontos recalled talking to Ryan Vogelsong after Posey's retirement and discussing a familiar pose from their friend. Posey would get in the squat and look down at the dirt for a few seconds, moving his fingers around as he tried to plan the next move. Then the signs would come, and Giants pitchers generally knew better than to shake to something else.
"Just the confidence that the guys on the mound, the pitchers, all of them coming in knowing that Buster will be behind the plate and he's prepared and he's thinking along with you and he's in it, I think that's what they're going to be missing the most," Kontos said. "It's just a rapport that you have with a guy who has done it so well for so long and it makes you feel comfortable, and when you feel comfortable on the mound you're usually at your best."