The Giants managed to stay remarkably healthy in 2010 on their way to winning San Francisco’s first World Series title, particularly during the thrilling stretch drive and dominant playoff run.
That extra month of baseball eventually took its toll, though, and in combination with 2010’s good fortune giving way to buzzard’s luck in the form of freak injuries, the 2011 title defense represented a stark contrast — in the trainer’s room and on the field.
Closer Brian Wilson has publicly cited the increased workload of 2010 as a reason for his uneven and oft-injured attempted encore of the performance that catapulted him to national stardom.
Second baseman Freddy Sanchez suffered a season-ending shoulder injury trying to make the same type of diving play that he made countless times on the way to the previous October’s glory.
Aubrey Huff apparently spent more time on the rubber-chicken circuit that tempts newly crowned champs than he spent in whatever workout rooms turned him into a hot-hitting, red-thong-rocking fan favorite during his first year in orange and black, and his lackluster performance after being rewarded with a two-year, $22 million deal last offseason earned verbal spankings from GM Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy.
The worst break of all, though, came when catcher Buster Posey’s leg and ankle were blown up in an infamous collision at the plate with, ironically enough, a former USF star — Scott Cousins — who grew up adoring the Giants.
Without Posey’s steady presence and production, the offense simply stunk up McCovey Cove to cesspool proportions.
Despite Pablo Sandoval returning to form — figuratively and literally — and Ryan Vogelsong captivating the Bay Area with his Hallmark Movie of the Decade story of perseverance and redemption, it wasn’t San Francisco’s year by a mile.
Will 2012 be any better? We’ll get an idea as spring training unfolds, because what was done over the winter to improve the offense — adding speedster Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera, coming off a career year, to the outfield — won’t mean a thing if Wilson, Sanchez and Posey aren’t whole for the bulk of the season.
Huff says he’s seen the error of his previous winter’s ways, but is anyone really expecting big things from a 35-year-old who could very well be pushed into outfield duty by Brandon Belt, whose head only recently stopped spinning from being treated like a human yo-yo during his disappointing rookie campaign?
Is Vogelsong, who turns 35 in July, that much safer a bet?
Is Sandoval, now armed with a fat three-year contract, a safe bet to not get fat again himself?
Nobody knows. That’s what makes this spring so fascinating for the no-longer-defending champs.
1. If Brian Wilson’s wing isn’t ready, it won’t be for lack of hard work. He’s a fitness freak. If he’s not appearing in Cactus League games by mid-March, though, it’s time to sound the alarm.
2. Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez still have a lot of work to do themselves, but more eyes will be on Posey’s progress. He’s younger and far more valuable.
3. GM Brian Sabean said locking down Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain were offseason priorities. Lincecum got a nice two-year deal, but Cain hasn’t gotten anything yet. Might the unflappable free-agent-to-be finally be flapped?