A Giant April

Well, the month of April is over for the Giants. I do not feel the same hopeful optimism that I felt last year. However, I do also recognize that it is early in the year. I find the Giants’ lack of offense of great concern, but this was the same situation they were in last year. Was the pitching better last year? I don’t know. It is still too early to tell.

One factor that was not prevalent last year is the number of injuries that the Giants have faced this year. Already, they’ve lost Andres Torres, their center fielder, Barry Zito, a starting pitcher, and Pablo Sandoval, their third baseman. Sandoval, who lost weight during the off season, showed himself to be back in his 2009 form– with good range at third base, and a solid bat in the lineup. Sandoval should be back in seven weeks, Zito, who sprained his foot should be back in, I believe, a couple weeks, and Torres is due back soon, as well.

There are other factors which have not helped the Giants– a general slump in hitting on the team. Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell, Buster Posey and Miguel Tejada are all not hitting up to their usual batting averages. Several other hitters have picked up the slack– Aaron Rowand and Mike Fontenot are doing well but not well enough to cover for the whole team.

Of course, now there are rumors starting to spread that the Giants are looking at trading for Jose Reyes of the Mets. He is in the last year of a huge contract, and is available. While he is also a very talented and versatile player, the question then becomes how much do they have to give up to get him? Jose Reyes does also have a history of injuries. All of these issues must factor into whether or not the Giants are going to pursue Reyes.

I think that the Giants players might be feeling stressed because of the success of last season. I do think that they’ll relax and re-find the success that they had last year. This will come from being a veteran ball club, along with having some young talented players as well. It will also come from having the injured players go through rehab and come back healthy to help the team win some games.

The Giants have not completely collapsed and they are not too far back in the standings to make up the ground. In fact, everyone in the NL West is pretty much bunched together. I think that the Giants and everyone else in the NL West may be fighting it out until the end of the season. Right now, it looks like the Rockies may have the early advantage. It remains to be seen if their pitching will hold up over the course of a long season.

One of my personal highlights of the season, aside from Opening Day and the World Series flag-raising ceremony, was the presentation of the World Series rings. I had, of course, never seen that ceremony before in San Francisco. It was spectacular to watch the Giants players come on the field in their gold-lettered uniforms by their uniform numbers. The ovations for each player called to the podium were fantastic with the loudest cheers being for Tim Lincecum and Buster Posey. However, to me, the highlight of the whole ceremony was when the Giants brought out four of the six living Hall of Famers, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, Gaylord Perry, and the great Willie Mays for them to receive their World Series rings. The only ones not present were Juan Marichal and Monte Irvin. That, to me, was such a profoundly beautiful moment that it almost defies description.

The game that night early in the season versus the Cardinals was a great game too. It truly did resemble the torture of the games of last year. It came down to the Giants losing, 2-1, in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Giants mounted a two-out rally, and had runners at first and second base. Miguel Tejada was the batter, and the pitcher went to a full 3-2 count on him which started the runners going with the pitch. Tejada hit a drive to left center field which was knocked down by the wind. The Cards’ center fielder, Colby Rasmus, got a glove on the ball as he attempted to make a basket catch deep in left center field on the warning track. The ball popped out of the centerfielder’s glove and landed on the warning track. Both runners scored, and the Giants snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. It was a spectacular victory!!

While this game was at the beginning of April, and at the start of the baseball season, it certainly felt like a kind of continuation of last year’s season. And, now, it is time to move past the celebration of 2010 and into the 2011 season. I do kind of find it hard to believe that we are one month into the new season. There is not much more that I can say other than I hope that this season exhibits all of the excitement and only a limited amount of the torture from last season. Go Giants!!


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