They’re just a baseball team this year, the Giants, not the champions, not the club with the attention, baggage and impossibility of doing what nobody had done for more than a decade — repeat.
“I don’t think any of us knew what was coming,” Tim Lincecum said. He meant about the season of 2011, disappointing mainly because understandably it couldn’t match the season of 2010, the championship season.
Media requests and TV replays of that fateful collision at home plate on an evening in May at AT&T Park combined to steal the magic, if not the memories.
“We didn’t know what it was going to be like being under a microscope last year,” Lincecum said, “with all the media, with having a target on your back. The game is hard enough as it is.”
And harder when Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez go down and Brian Wilson is never completely healthy for seemingly more than a few minutes from April through September.
But now it’s a new spring, symbolically, if not chronologically, and sure as there were maybe 200 people at Scottsdale Stadium on Wednesday just to watch the workouts, it’s a time to look ahead not to the rear.
Ahead to Posey’s return, and he was throwing and hitting beautifully in the drills, although manager Bruce Bochy said Posey would not play catcher Saturday when San Francisco begins the exhibition season against Arizona, the team, which replaced it as National League West champ.
Ahead to Sanchez’s comeback, and even though he made some throws to first base Wednesday while covering second, he won’t be in the lineup for at least a week.
Ahead to the additions of Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera, who should help transform some of those 2-1 losses into 3-2 wins, if not necessarily with their bats, then with their gloves or feet.
“I like our new focus on speed,” said Lincecum, on the wrong side of some of those 2-1 — or 1-0 — defeats, usually to Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers. “That’s something we’ve been lacking. We didn’t steal many bases, scoring one to two runs a game. Any run on top of that, with our [pitching] staff could be a game-changer.”
Brandon Crawford, the kid from UCLA and Pleasanton, has the range at shortstop Miguel Tejada, who was 37 (or was it 47?), did not. Pagan will catch balls in left, Cabrera in center.
“We didn’t feel like we had to do a lot,” Bochy said. “We have the potential for more runs. When you don’t make the playoffs, you have to get better. I think with our new faces and energy, and Buster and Freddy coming back, we have a lot of confidence. I think one through eight we’re pretty good.”
That will be enough only if the guy at No. 9, the pitcher, is very good. And for the most part, with Lincecum — who Bochy all but conceded starts the season opener — Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong and Wilson, that has been the case.
“I think we’re focused a little bit better than last year,” said Bochy, “but last year we did get off to a very good start.”
Then Posey got hurt, and it was time to think next year. Which finally has arrived.
Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.realclearsports.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.