Them's fighting words for Giants
New attitude on display as players show up in desert
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants won't quite wear their new attitude on their sleeves, but their clothing conveys the message clearly.Each player was issued a T-shirt, decorated in a black, gray and white camouflage pattern, with the orange-colored words "WARRIOR SPIRIT/Find the swagger" on the back. It's a direct reference to manager Bruce Bochy's remarks at the end of last season, when he cited the lack of a "warrior spirit" and declared his intent to change the "culture" in the clubhouse. The Giants will need much more than inspirational slogans and creative garb to escape another last-place finish in the National League West. But the shirts should at least nudge everybody in the right direction. Even though pitchers and catchers were the only Giants due to report Wednesday, position players such as Aaron Rowand and Kevin Frandsen -- each known for a full-speed approach to the game -- already were working out at the Scottsdale Stadium complex. General manager Brian Sabean said that Rowand actually showed up Tuesday -- a week before the first full-squad workout -- to take fly balls from coach Ron Wotus. "He walks the walk," Sabean said of Rowand, who's already been identified as a source for a potential improvement in camaraderie and collective resolve. "It's going to be a different feel in here," left-hander Noah Lowry said. "We have some guys with some fire, some energy and some charisma. Not to say that we didn't have that before; we did. But every year somebody brings something different." Bochy credited athletic trainers Dave Groeschner and Ben Potenziano for devising the T-shirts. But, Bochy said, "We want to send a message: It's going to take a contribution from everybody. This club's not built around one guy. It's going to take everybody pulling on the same rope to help win a ballgame." The entire atmosphere around the Giants is guaranteed to be different with Barry Bonds absent for the first time since 1992. The Giants announced last September 21 that they wouldn't re-sign the left fielder and all-time home run leader, but the reality that Bonds is gone -- as well as the controversy surrounding his possible steroid use, the oppressive media attention that accompanied it and his oft-glowering presence -- began sinking in only recently. "It was intimidating a little bit, like you always had to walk on eggshells," right-hander Brian Wilson said. The assignment of clubhouse dressing stalls confirmed Bonds' absence. Occupying what was formerly his corner was left-hander Barry Zito, who neighbored Bonds last Spring Training and during the regular season at AT&T Park.
"People will be allowed to be who they want to be, not who they think they have to be," Zito said. "Whenever there's one of the greatest players of all time on the team, players aren't going to be totally comfortable in their own skin, because a lot of them are kind of in awe."Awe is expected to yield to something much more basic: The development of a true 25-man ballclub, with everybody on equal footing -- as opposed to one man on a pedestal. "I think a lot of people will see a new Giants organization, a new Giants team," right-hander Matt Cain said. "Fifteen years they've been building around Barry. There's nothing wrong with that; that's the way it's been. Barry's a great player and he's always been. But it was time to kind of move on and I think we should surprise some guys with some young talent and guys to look up to down the road." "We all know that in a lot of ways, Barry was bigger than life, on the field and in the clubhouse," Sabean said. "He's a very dominant personality. At least from the players I talked to, they're interested in making a statement." The statement just might be on their T-shirts.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.