ST. LOUIS -- Angel Pagan relishes feeling like a rookie again.This is the first Major League postseason of Pagan's seven-year career. Merely participating thrills him. Excelling, as he has done lately, leaves him euphoric. Pagan was a member of the Cubs when they reached the National League Division Series in 2007 but didn't make the postseason roster. Now, as the Giants' center fielder and leadoff hitter in the NL Championship Series against the Cardinals, Pagan intends to seize any chance to thrive.
"This is my type of game," said Pagan, who will resume the NLCS in Wednesday's Game 3, at 1 p.m. PT on FOX. "I love this type of environment. To try to win that championship, having that kind of opportunity, is unbelievable. I feel blessed."The Giants would welcome sustained production from Pagan, whose presence at the top of the order reflects his importance to the club. Since mustering one hit in his first 12 Division Series at-bats, he has gone 5-for-17 while gaining widespread attention with his leadoff home run in the Giants' 7-1 victory on Monday. Pagan became the second player to hit two leadoff homers in the same postseason; he also victimized Cincinnati in Game 4 of the Division Series. Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins (2008) is the only other player in history to accomplish this feat. Pagan hit only eight regular-season home runs, but he did lash 15 triples, and he fully understands the potential impact of his leadoff role.
"If I go, we go," he said.Pagan, acquired from the Mets last December for outfielder Andres Torres and right-hander Ramon Ramirez, is aware that his basestealing prowess makes him a dual threat. "I like to take a big lead and look like I'm going to be aggressive on the bases so [the pitcher] can pay more attention to me than the hitters," said Pagan, who stole 29 bases in 36 tries this season. The 31-year-old believes that at the very least, he can influence teammates with his upbeat attitude, even if he goes 0-for-4. "When you play hard every day and bring your happiness and positive energy, that's what your teammates appreciate," Pagan said. The switch-hitting Pagan inherited this approach from Jose Reyes, the All-Star shortstop with whom he played during his four years in New York. Pagan marveled at Reyes' aggressive style and energy.
"I think it's addictive," he said. "When you have somebody like that, you want to play with him."That's how Pagan performed during his late-season renaissance. He was the Opening Day leadoff hitter but lost the role to Gregor Blanco after a month. He reclaimed the job in early August, outdoing himself -- and everybody else -- as he led the Majors that month with 32 runs scored and ranked second in extra-base hits, with 18. "He's got a little swagger back," manager Bruce Bochy said.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.