Giants report, begin 2007 journey
Pitchers and catchers set to open workouts Thursday
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Sorry, guys, your offseason is over.The Giants had about four months to mull over what happened in 2006 -- finishing third in the National League West after a season-ending tailspin before thankfully deleting those memories from their mental hard drives over the winter. But like computer experts and psychologists will tell you, remnants of erasures still exist, and maybe that's a good thing as San Francisco's pitchers and catchers officially reported for Spring Training today at Scottsdale Stadium, getting a jump on their position-player colleagues, who check in on Feb. 19. Motivation speeches won't be needed in the Valley of the Sun, for all Giants' minds will focus on the immediate future, getting the muscles in tune, the batting eyes sharp and gearing themselves for the long summer's grind and an expected turnaround, back into divisional contention. As longtime head equipment boss Mike Murphy and his assistants stock the clubhouse with new uniforms and other gear over the next few days, there is a sense that 2006 was just an off-year, with too many physical breakdowns, inexplicable poor pitching performances and bad karma. "This is a good team," said new manager Bruce Bochy. "I like it. We do have to address the bullpen, but we'll get it done. And if Barry Bonds plays like he did the second half of last season, we'll be OK." Bonds enters what could be his last Spring Training, armed with a $15.8 million deal that the Giants hope will be inked before the regulars report. Contract language is the current holdup, but the slugger says he's never been late for spring workouts and expects to be on time. There will be only light -- if any -- individual workouts, as players can "report" by showing up at Scottsdale Stadium or merely phoning in their whereabouts. The real action begins Thursday, when morning exercises begin with pitchers unlimbering on practice mounds just outside the main ballpark and catchers feeling, at last, the sting of fastballs. "I'm thrilled to be here," said Bochy. "I didn't feel any strangeness to walk in here. I'm a Giant and very proud to be one."
Getting an early start is the enigma of the Giants' relief corps, Armando Benitez, who is getting the feel of a mound again after rehabbing his arthritic knees during an offseason in the Dominican Republic and Miami. It will take a little while for the big man to be game-ready, but how the closer performs in Cactus League competition -- presuming he gets that far -- is crucial.Giants general manager Brian Sabean says Benitez's health can't be evaluated until the right-hander gets into baseball shape and that throwing off the hill is only the first step. Benitez has reportedly lost considerable weight, almost a prerequisite in keeping his knees from hurting. Preliminary workouts for position players are voluntary, although outfield prospect Dan Ortmeier will show up this week as he rehabs from knee surgery.
Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.