Giants reflect upon memorable season
Players pack up lockers in advance of World Series championship parade
SAN FRANCISCO -- Several members of the newly crowned World Series champion San Francisco Giants emptied their lockers and dressing stalls Tuesday at AT&T Park, which will enable them to make a quicker getaway to their offseason homes after Wednesday's parade.Of course, most of the Giants' 2012 season can't be stashed in a box or tossed in a garbage can. Various memories and thrills already have become entrenched in the hearts and minds of various Giants who visited the clubhouse to pack their baseball belongings. Third baseman Pablo Sandoval personally carted out his World Series Most Valuable Player trophy in a wheeled storage trunk to have it polished. Sandoval remained philosophical and humble as he pondered his success. "I got MVP, but we played like a team," Sandoval said of the four-game sweep over Detroit that gave the Giants their second title in three years. Sandoval didn't sound anything like a man who had just batted .500 (8-for-16) with three home runs, a double and four RBIs in the Series. "You have ups and downs in your career and your life," Sandoval said. "God is going to put a lot of tests in your way. You have to know how to handle that." And when success comes around, Sandoval said, "You have to be the same guy." Sandoval said that he'll be sharing his thoughts on a nationwide television talk show Thursday, though he wasn't certain whether it would be "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" or "The Late Show With David Letterman." The switch-hitter intends to play approximately 15 games of winter ball in Venezuela in late December before resuming his workout program in Arizona during early January. Sandoval hopes to be in playing shape a little earlier than usual next year, because he wants to perform for his native Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic next March. Like Sandoval, catcher Buster Posey seemed anything but smug, even after a MVP-caliber season. Asked how the Giants could build upon or sustain this year's achievements, Posey said, "I definitely think 'sustain' is not the right approach. I really can't speak on more than a personal level, but you have to be willing to take risks to make adjustments and realize that if you're sitting still and satisfied with what you've done, people are going to be passing you." What that meant for him, Posey added, was "being willing to make changes. Even if something's working for you and you think you can do something to improve it, then being willing to take that risk to make that adjustment is crucial." Posey also discussed the challenge of finding the right balance between unwinding from this season and preparing for 2013. He noted that experiencing a shortened offseason following the 2010 Series triumph should help him the second time around. "I think it definitely is important to realize that you need to give yourself a break, not only physically but mentally as well," Posey said. "I remember coming into Spring Training in 2011 and it felt like we just got that last out against the Rangers. So I have to find some way to make sure my body's feeling as fresh as it can be. I think going through 2010 will help." If anybody had a reason to feel smug, it was Javier Lopez. Late last October, the left-hander signed a two-year, $8.5 million contract with the Giants, eschewing the chance to obtain a more lucrative deal in free agency. Lopez cited the opportunity to return to the postseason as a primary reason for sticking with San Francisco. But instead of crowing triumphantly, Lopez mentioned what might have been the lowest point of the Giants' season -- a 1-5 trip to Washington and Pittsburgh immediately before the All-Star break. The Giants were outscored 45-21 in that stretch.
"I thought we weren't clicking on all cylinders," Lopez recalled. "That was a wakeup moment for a lot of guys." Realizing the effort required to become a legitimate postseason conntender, the Giants won nine of their first 11 games following the break.Asked if he already had begun replaying any memories from this season or postseason, right-hander Ryan Vogelsong focused on Game 3 of the Division Series at Cincinnati, a 2-1, 10-inning decision that happened to be the first of six consecutive elimination games the Giants won. "We scored a run off a guy who was throwing a no-hitter [Homer Bailey]," Vogelsong said. "And then we scored a run off a guy who never makes an error [third baseman Scott Rolen]. We needed something to get us going. That really sticks out to me as what jump-started us as a team." Vogelsong added that Barry Zito's 7 2/3-inning effort in San Francisco's 5-0 victory in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series at St. Louis was another turning point. "Once again, we needed a spark and he throws the ball great and really set the blueprint of what we needed to do to win. Keep them off the board early and give our guys a chance to get someting going offensively," Vogelsong said. "That's what happened in Game 5; that's what happened in Game 6; that's what happened in Game 7. We carried that right into the Tigers series." Indeed, the Giants were 10-1 when scoring first in the postseason. They relinquished an early 1-0 lead in the final game of the World Series but still triumphed, 4-3, in 10 innings. As Vogelsong said, "We could all see the finish line. It's a lot easier to win when you all can see the finish line."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.