SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Storm clouds swirled in the distance, above the Superstition Mountains. But Tuesday, for the Giants’ first full-squad workout of 2015, there was only sunshine.
When you’re the World Series champion, anything else would be unacceptable. So Panda has crossed the continent. “A good player, a good teammate, always a happy person,” center fielder Angel Pagan said about the dearly departed Pablo Sandoval. “But we have to move on.”
And Matt Cain, who had elbow surgery in August, hasn’t thrown in a game since last summer. He’s supposed to be ready, although until he actually pitches, there remains an uncertainty.
Still, spring training is the time of optimism. With Pagan returning after the September back surgery that kept him out of the postseason, and with new third baseman Casey McGehee and new outfielder Nori Aoki, the Giants understandably were upbeat.
“We’ll go about our business,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “But we took time to savor those victories.” As did the Bay Area, correctly. Because the good days are temporary.
When you’re winning, it’s as if losing is an impossibility. Think of the 49ers in the ’80s. If they weren’t a dynasty, they were at the least the nearest thing to one. Now they look up at other teams, attempting to regain what the franchise once possessed.
Bochy is not so much wary but realistic. The pieces, the luck change with the years. “In this game, the good times are limited,” he said. What he didn’t say is the Giants won’t always have a Buster Posey, Hunter Pence and Madison Bumgarner on the roster.
“It’s been great to have the type of success we’ve had,” Bochy agreed, “but that window is not always going to be there. This is a great group. We’ve had continuity. You’ve got to seize the moment.”
As after seasons of failing, the Giants finally have seized several moments. Three championships in five years. Could you have imagined that before 2012?
Bochy is part of the reason. He not only understands the game, that in a sport where athletes shift laundry and locations — Sandoval, Jon Lester to name two — and fortune hinges on a differential of an inch, Bochy understands people.
He never berates his athletes. He played the game, a catcher, knows how star pitchers can groove an 0-2 pitch or top outfielders can misjudge a fly. You might say there’s always a bounce in a Bochy step, although since two stents were inserted into his heart only last week, he has been advised to bounce a little less.
“We have a great group here,” said Bochy, aware of the talent.
If Cain performs as in the past. If Tim Lincecum, wearing his yellow-and-green Seattle SuperSonics hat in the clubhouse, finds what he had. If Tim Hudson has it one more season. If MadBum is dominant once more they should have a winning group once more.
The Giants didn’t have the best record in the National League last year, so as Bochy explained, “We know we have some work to do.”
They did have the World Series championship.
“We’re proud of that,” Bochy allowed. “But when the bell rings, it’s your job to be ready to go when the season starts.”
The Giants will be ready. They’re always ready.
Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.bleacherreport.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.