It has been scarcely more than 100 days since the Giants claimed the title of world champions in Arlington, Texas. Relief pitcher Sergio Romo’s smile, along with his beard, has only become bigger since.
Romo, who turns 28 on March 4, is still basking in the glow of last year’s amazing title run and still feeling grateful that he was a part of it.
“It was like playing stick ball out in the backyard,” Romo said. “How I weaseled my way onto this staff I don’t know.”
How he’s done it has been to compile a 13-6 record over three seasons with the Giants with an ERA of 2.63 with two saves in 142 appearances. Romo also has an impressive 144 strikeouts compared to only 33 walks in 130 innings of work.
The native of Brawley, a city of around 20,000 near the California-Mexico border, credits the fans’ support for the Giants’ success last year.
“Without the fans, we are not in this position today,” Romo said. “They came out with signs, double-sided signs, Panda hats and beards. It was unbelievable.”
Romo even credited the fans when the Giants were on the road during the playoffs.
“When we were in Texas, you knew where our fans were,” Romo said. “It was a solid wall of orange in the stands there. It’s motivating, the drive and passion they invested in us. How could we not give it back to them?”
This offseason, Romo, has experienced the loss of any anonymity he might have enjoyed prior to being a world champion.
“It’s such a gratifying moment when someone recognizes you on the street now,” Romo said. “You really want to embrace every one of them and thank them for their support.”
Outfielder Cody Ross, the Giants’ one-man scoring machine during their postseason run, agreed.
“It’s definitely different now,” Ross said. “People are always looking at you and saying, ‘Don’t I know you?’ It’s very special.”
Romo’s teammates have been somewhat busy during the offseason with a few nonbaseball-related activities, most notably Brian Wilson’s well-publicized appearances on late-night shows with Jay Leno and George Lopez. Wilson, along with his beard, has been a common line of questioning for Romo during the offseason.
“I thought it was hilarious,” Romo said of the facial hair. “How he can grow his [beard] that big and it looks so awesome. That’s amazing.”
But Romo denied there will be any competition to outgrow Wilson in the beard department.
“It was just a way for us to mesh as a team,” Romo said.
But despite an enjoyable offseason of celebration, both Romo and Ross are eager to get back onto the diamond and begin their championship defense.
“I’m looking forward to starting spring training,” Ross said. “Getting that camaraderie back.”
Players give green light for Showtime
If any of the Giants are concerned that their upcoming foray into reality television is going to be a major distraction as they prepare to defend their world championship, it wasn’t showing during a recent media session. The subject of the Showtime series has been a popular offseason topic.
“I think it got off on the wrong foot, especially in the media,” outfielder Cody Ross said. “But it isn’t going to be about drama like some of those reality shows. It’s going to be what this organization is about.”
Filming is set to begin in spring training and continue the rest of the season, with an initial show to air around the opening week of the season and the remainder of the series to be shown after the All-Star break.
“I think it’s great,” pitcher Sergio Romo said. “There’s a lot of things that go on behind the scenes that the fans don’t get to see. It’s going to show our personality. I’m looking forward to it.”
The series has yet to be given a title, and no firm broadcast dates have been set.
— Richard Paolinelli
Dates to remember
Feb. 25 Giants host Arizona Diamondbacks in first spring game
March 28 Giants arrive back in Bay Area to play A’s in first of three exhibition games
March 31 Giants open regular season in Los Angeles against rival Dodgers
April 8 Giants host St. Louis Cardinals in home opener at AT&T Park
The veteran infielder will fill the void at shortstop left by the departed Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria. Tejada, who spent the first seven seasons of his career with the A’s, will bring a consistent bat with some pop to the Giants’ lineup. Tejada, a career .287 hitter, finished last season with a .269 average with 15 home runs and 71 RBIs, splitting his time with the Orioles and Padres.
Barring an injury, the veteran right-hander won’t make the Giants’ rotation out of spring training. But Suppan could be a valuable commodity if he is stashed in the minor leagues as an insurance policy if any of the five starters go down at some point this season. Suppan struggled last year in stints with the Brewers and Cardinals, compiling a 5.06 ERA, but does have 16 years of experience under his belt.
Player to watch
Rising star Giants prospect Brandon Belt has made a meteoric rise from obscurity to one of baseball’s hottest up-and-comers. The first baseman-outfielder combined to hit .352 with 23 home runs and 112 RBIs at three different minor league levels last year. A strong showing in Arizona this spring could land Belt a spot on the Opening Day roster, though it’s more likely he begins the year at Triple-A Fresno.