It’s safe to say the Giants are anxious to put the 2013 season behind them, and with pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training Friday, they don’t have to wait long to work on getting back to championship form.
While most of the players and coaches said they watched the postseason last year, none admitted to rooting for or against any one team — not even their bitter rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers continued to throw their newfound wealth around this offseason in an attempt to repeat as NL West champions, a fact not lost on the Giants.
“I think we’ve all noticed it,” manager Bruce Bochy said of the Dodgers’ extravagant ways. “But we can’t get caught into it. I always preach this to the players. There’s no point looking at what other clubs are doing or who they have, their assets. It doesn’t matter. It’s what you believe yourself and your focus always has to be your club.”
For the Giants, what could have been a winter focused on remaking a pitching staff that disappointed in 2013 instead saw the return of Ryan Vogelsong and Tim Lincecum, both free agents who decided to chase another World Series in The City.
What has been known the past few seasons as a young staff is now filled with veterans, who have stockpiled individual and team awards. The addition of former A’s and Atlanta Braves’ ace Tim Hudson — who signed as a free agent for two years, $23 million — only adds to the collective resume.
The Giants were 24th in the majors last season in starters’ ERA at 4.37, a far cry from their championship years. They were sixth in 2012 at 3.73 and third in 2010 at 3.54. The starter’s ranked second in 2011 with a 3.28 ERA, but missing catcher Buster Posey to a devastating leg injury for much of the year crippled the offense.
That year without Posey was key to the team’s success the following season,Vogelsong said.
“I think that’s what helped us win in ’12,” he said. “The experience of not having Buster around for most of ’11 gave some guys some other time to mature and get better and improve their game. … That being said, I think we need to take everything that happened to us last year and learn from it.”
It got less attention, but the injury to Angel Pagan last season — forcing the center fielder and leadoff man to miss June, July and much of August — had a similar impact on the offense. The club was tied for first place when he injured his hamstring on May 25, and promptly fell off the map during his absence, sitting in last place when he returned on Aug. 30.
Time will only tell if the team responds the same championship way for the 2014 season. The Giants will play their first spring training game Feb. 26 against the A’s in Arizona.
Spring training home: Scottsdale Stadium, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Friday: Pitchers and catchers report
Feb. 18: Position players report
Feb. 26: Cactus League opener vs. A’s, 12:05 p.m.
Local-TV games: March 8, March 15, March 21, March 27, March 29
Key newcomers: RHP Tim Hudson, OF-1B Michael Morse, LHP David Huff
Bay Bridge Series: March 27-28 vs. A’s, 7:15 p.m.; March 29 at A’s, 1:05 p.m.