10/01/2003 3:50 PM ET
Notes: One big happy family
SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Felipe Alou has previously expressed that what surprised him more than anything about his team is that it is one of the more cosmopolitan in America, featuring players from seven countries and a thorough mix of cultures.
By Rich Draper / MLB.com
He reiterated the feeling on Wednesday prior to Game 2 of the National League Division Series against the Florida Marlins at Pacific Bell Park.
The music that blares through the clubhouse following victories is eclectic. It could be a rhythmic Latin beat or rap or jazz -- whatever fits the mood.
During Spring Training, when new players were ushered in, there could have been personality conflict, rivalries renewed, men holding grudges. But from the get-go, the Giants were one big family, a United Nations, with diversity only part of the mix.
Togetherness is what made them click. As it still does.
"The unity that I see with this group, it's surprising," said Alou. "We touched on a lot of unity in the spring, and I wonder if I had to do that, because these people have been really together.
"This club has been winning for years, but then again, we brought some new guys, many new coaches and myself. But the level of unity has been terrific. Whether it is in the clubhouse, the field, the practice, the dugout, the airplane, the bus, it's something very incredible. I thank God for it."
The Giants could also thank Alou for dealing with the numerous injuries and emotional distress of family tragedies the team had to overcome, mixing and matching the players with ease, always aware of who needed an extra day of rest, who needed to play when and where.
Catcher Benito Santiago agrees that the team and its disparate pieces melded quickly, both in the clubhouse and on the field.
"The first couple of weeks, [we] got along very well, really fast, real quick," said Santiago, a star of
last season's National League Championship Series. "These were quality people, they're professionals, and they know what they're supposed to do. We had good communication from the start."
What about Barry? Alou remains astonished at what Barry Bonds has accomplished this season: a .341 batting average, 133 hits in only 390 at-bats, 45 homers. It's all good, but then you consider the 148 walks (intentional or not), the pitchers giving him few strikes to hit, the lingering grief of watching his father, Bobby Bonds, slowly die of cancer.
An amazing season of production.
"I see guys with 100 RBIs but over 600 at-bats, like Richie Sexson," said Alou, "but then I see Barry. Every time he [was] pitched to, he either hit a home run or got an RBI or a base hit. When you know your at-bats are limited, it's like you're obligated to produce at whatever hour they decide to give you a pitch to hit. That is a very amazing situation."
Sleepless in San Fran: If there ever was a day when the 68-year-old Giants manager was going to catnap at the ballpark, Wednesday was it, as Alou was awake at 5:11 a.m. to move out of his nearby apartment.
"It was a little rough today, kind of unsettling, even for someone who lives just across the street," said Alou, his voice sounding a tad gravelly.
Health watch: Giants outfielder Marvin Benard underwent what trainer Stan Conte called a "routine postseason cleanup procedure" on his left knee on Wednesday morning, performed by team physician Dr. Gary Fanton.
It was a short operation, lasting only 20 minutes, said Conte, who indicated that Benard should be OK by Spring Training. "All these guys have some arthritis here and there, and things needed to be cleaned up," he said. "There are little loose bodies floating around in there, but we don't name them, like stars. They are very, very small."
Rehabbing pitcher Robb Nen remains on what Conte called a "slow track on a long journey" recovering from shoulder surgery, and has been playing catch lately, with no ill effects. "He gets frustrated, but he takes it in stride and is looking forward to next year. I'm pleased with his rehab."
Nen lives in Los Angeles, and will continue to visit the Bay Area at times, while Conte will travel south to work with him. Nen should start throwing from the mound sometime in December.
The Thrill: Will Clark was back in town. Muscled. Yeah, like working-out big. Not much flab. "They used to kid about my tummy years ago, and that's about the only thing they could kid me about," said the former Giants star, among a contingent of ex-San Franciscans throwing out first balls for Game 2.
"Hey, in the fantasy camp here, I put one in McCovey Cove," laughed the jovial Clark, who still flashed that familiar tight-lipped expression. When former teammate Duane Kuiper, now a Giants announcer, walked by, Clark greeted "Kuip" with a how-are-ya and a backhanded compliment: "My son, Trey, is on his PlayStation2, and I have to listen to you and [Mike] Krukow all the time!"
Clark, who played with Giants pitcher Sidney Ponson when the latter was with Baltimore, said that the right-hander has improved greatly in both his throwing and his demeanor. "He would get real worked up on the mound and make a lot of bad mistakes, but now, watching him pitch, he doesn't make nearly the mistakes."
Cincy-bound? When a team makes the postseason, as the Giants have, and has a great track record, opposing clubs wants a piece of the action, and that means pursuing the brain trust.
In this case it's Ned Colletti, the team's assistant general manager and one of the smartest contract guys in the game.
Colletti said that he is in the running for the open GM post with the Cincinnati Reds, along with a handful of other candidates.
"That said, I've got a great job here with great people," said Colletti. "For me to leave, I'd have to be secure in knowing that I'd have a chance to be someplace else where we'd have the opportunity to do what we did here [in San Francisco]. We have to have the commitment, and we have to be in a situation where the people have a great desire to succeed."
Colletti said that he has not been interviewed for the job.
Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.