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San Francisco Giants Senior Vice President and General Manager Brian Sabean watches practice during Spring Training at Scottsdale Stadium in Scottsdale, Ariz. on Wednesday February 20, 2008. (Nader Khouri/Contra Costa Times)

Giants general manager Brian Sabean veered out of the proverbial basepath when he went off on Florida Marlins outfielder Scott Cousins during a KNBR radio interview this week.

He belittled an opposing player beyond what even an overprotective Little League parent might yell, much less a Major League Baseball executive. There was no excuse for him to say "we'll all be happy" if baseball never again sees Cousins, who thrashed catcher Buster Posey's left ankle in a collision at home plate May 25 at AT&T Park.

National outrage ensued over Sabean's remarks during his radio show. On Friday, Sabean was phoning the Marlins and Cousins to make amends, and embarrassed members of the Giants' brass found themselves defending Sabean's emotional nature.

There is no doubt that emotions were a factor in Sabean's outburst. So is a loyalty to Posey. The star catcher's inability to return for the Giants' title defense has broken the hearts of many inside and outside of AT&T Park's brick walls.

Victories such as Friday night's 3-1 version over the Colorado Rockies help ease the pain of Posey's absence. As piercing as Sabean's words were in the preceding 24-hour news cycle, they were overshadowed by night's end, courtesy of Matt Cain's pitching, Brian Wilson's 16th save, Cody Ross' two-run double and Pleasanton-bred shortstop Brandon Crawford's home debut.

But something was missing: Posey

Unabashedly and understandably, Sabean has Posey's back and not Cousins', who by multiple accounts is a top-notch guy and properly reached out to Posey.


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Posey, on the other hand, has shown no interest in returning Cousins' call, which would possibly free the Florida player's conscience.

Perhaps Sabean didn't want Posey subjected to criticism, particularly in his current, injured state. So Sabean opted to lash out at Cousins himself. But he took it a step or two into the realm of inappropriateness.

Sabean's personal connection to the reigning National League Rookie of the Year is obvious. The day after Posey got hurt, Sabean talked about Posey being "crushed." Sabean reinforced how much Posey loves the game and how excited he is to become a first-time father -- he and his wife, Kristin, are expecting twins this year.

Sabean, like a good father, had stayed late at the ballpark with Posey on the night of the injury, and he was back there at Posey's side the following morning during more medical treatment. Sabean knows firsthand about Posey's state of mind, which is why stunned listeners shouldn't ignore something during Thursday's radio rant that is more disturbing and relevant to the Giants than anything about Cousins.

"I know this is a horrific experience for him," Sabean said of Posey. "He's in a lot of pain right now. It's psychologically difficult for him to rationalize this, so that decision (to remain a catcher) is way up the line."

Said team president Larry Baer on Friday: "I don't want to say what Brian meant to say, but our focus is on Buster Posey and his state of mind and getting him feeling better, out of pain."

As badly as Sabean feels about Posey, however, there are others needing his help. The Giants are in contention. They are going to need his assessment on how long to stick with aging veterans such as shortstop Miguel Tejada, pitcher Barry Zito and outfielder Pat Burrell. They are going to need the same midsummer magic that Sabean spun last year, when he hit baseball's salvage yard to secure vital parts to San Francisco's first World Series winner.

"Our team is a constant mix and match," Baer said while praising Sabean's and manager Bruce Bochy's ability to juggle players.

After Sabean was so willing to vocalize his support of Posey, and his disdain for Cousins, Giants players will not doubt Sabean's commitment to them and the team.

Clearing the air on Posey's plight may have been a necessary -- albeit sloppy and emotional -- step for Sabean to get past.

Contact Cam Inman at cinman@bayareanewsgroup.com.