SAN FRANCISCO -- Think about how much has changed for Edgar Renteria since 1997, and it will allow you to appreciate what is still so strikingly similar.
Thirteen years ago, when Renteria was the World Series hero for the Marlins, his feet were quick, his mind was young and his projections were high. Now, his production has declined, his injuries have mounted and his range has diminished.
But apparently the World Series is still his stage.
On this Thursday night -- Game 2 of the 2010 World Series and nearly the 13-year anniversary of his Game 7 walk-off single with the Marlins -- Renteria got the Giants on the board with a rare home run when it looked like the outcome would be close, and he essentially put the Rangers away with a bases-loaded two-run single when things were getting out of hand in an eventual 9-0 victory.
This was a trying year for Renteria, but even while making three separate trips to the disabled list and admittedly not being himself on the field, the 35-year-old kept believing he would be needed on this club.
Nights like Game 2 were the ones he was thinking about.
"He knows that he's almost at the end of his career, and he wanted to be in the playoffs to begin with, and once we got here, he wanted to be in the Big Dance one more time," hitting coach Hensley Meulens said after the Giants put themselves two wins away from their first World Series championship since 1954. "He doesn't know how long he's going to play, but he's the ultimate professional. He worked hard every day that he wasn't playing."
Thirteen years and two days ago, Renteria -- then a 22-year-old shortstop nicknamed "The Barranquilla Baby" in reference to where he grew up in Colombia -- had what is still considered the moment of his life: A two-out bases-loaded single in the 11th inning against the Indians' Charles Nagy to win the World Series.
"That was a long time ago," Renteria said with a grin, minutes after yet another memorable Fall Classic game.
With the nearly unhittable Matt Cain on the mound for the Giants and C.J. Wilson rolling early for the Rangers, Renteria -- whose World Series experience is a big reason why he's even in the lineup -- got a letter-high 0-1 fastball and drilled it over the left-field fence for just his second career postseason homer, and first since Game 3 of the 2001 National League Division Series, to give San Francisco a 1-0 lead.
"I've kept myself ready for anything that can happen in this game," Renteria said, "and I was ready for that pitch."
Then, with the bases loaded, two outs and the Giants holding a 4-0 lead, Renteria came through with a two-run single to stretch the advantage to six. Since being reinserted into the lineup in Game 2 of the NL Championship Series, Renteria was 2-for-19 (.105) heading into Thursday.
None of that mattered on this night.
"I couldn't be happier for Edgar," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's been a tough year for him."
The toughest, perhaps.
In the final year of a two-year, $18.5 million contract and perhaps his final season, Renteria was limited to just 68 starts at shortstop, the least since he started 106 as a rookie in 1996.
But even while missing 14 games with a groin injury in May, 20 games with a hamstring injury in June, 19 games with a biceps injury in August and 10 games with an elbow injury in September, then losing his starting job down the stretch, Renteria kept believing he would eventually be needed.
"I was just trying to work and trying to get ready for my teammates," he said. "They deserve it. They've been playing good all year. I was getting ready for them.
"I was always ready. I was always ready for a moment like right now."
Renteria, chasing his second ring and in his third World Series, is the most playoff-seasoned member of this Giants team, so his presence goes a long way this time of year.
"He's a leader in that clubhouse," Bochy said. "Everybody looks up to him. He's been through this, and he's excited about how he feels right now. He's excited about being back in the World Series. He's a guy you look up to, and I know the players do, too. It's nice to have him out there at shortstop with the experience that he's had. I'll say this: I think the rest probably has benefited him. He's playing like he did 10 years ago."
Or, 13 years ago.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Gonzo and "The Show". Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.