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Giants' favorite offseason memories
The glow of a World Series title doesn’t fade after the final out. Players, coaches and managers savor their accomplishments all winter, and often relish new experiences along the way.
With that in mind, I asked a number of San Francisco Giants the same question: What is your favorite memory of the offseason? Their answers did not disappoint.
Marco Scutaro: Drawing unusual recognition
Scutaro said he was surprised to be recognized when he visited the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela to renew the passport of his older daughter, Maria Veronica, 10.
“As soon as I got to the place, one of the officers said, ‘I’ve seen you before,’” Scutaro recalled, smiling. “I said, ‘Probably Hollywood.’ And then I said, ‘You watch the World Series?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, that’s right!’”
Angel Pagan: Inspiring the young
Pagan, who lives in Dorado, Puerto Rico in the offseason, drew newfound attention when he trained at his local fitness center and track.
“When I do my training, I like to do it so the young guys see me, the way I go about my work,” Pagan said. “I used to have five to seven guys (watching). Now I have like 25 to 30.
“They ask me, my personal trainer. I tell them to come over, do the same thing I do. (The trainer) doesn’t charge them. I want them to understand what it takes to get ready, to be a champion. It’s about your work ethic, how you prepare to be successful.
“Anybody I can help in a positive way, to me that’s mission accomplished.”
Buster Posey: Meeting Yogi Berra
Posey visited the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center in Little Falls, N.J., on Jan. 18, the day before he received his National League MVP award at the New York Baseball Writers Dinner.
“That was a really cool moment for me,” Posey said. “He’s one of those living legends. You feel privileged just to get a chance to meet him.
“It was neat just to share a couple of hours with him, go to his museum, see some of the history of not only himself, but the game, and what it was like when he played.”
Brandon Crawford: Becoming a father
Crawford’s wife, Jalynne, gave birth to their daughter, Braylyn, on Dec. 18.
“We played pretty much until November,” Crawford said. “I took November off and started working out in December. Then she came on the 18th and it’s been kind of crazy since then.
“I’ve been working out and everything,” Crawford added, smiling, “but with a lot less sleep.”
Barry Zito: Traveling to Europe
Zito and his wife, Amber, took an 11-day vacation to Barcelona, Paris and Amsterdam.
His favorite part?
“Just how beautiful Amsterdam was,” Zito said. “I knew how beautiful Paris was. I had been there before. Barcelona is cool, too. Everyone talks about Amsterdam in one connotation. They never told me how gorgeous it was.”
Brandon Belt: Getting kissed by a star
Belt, Zito and comedian Rodney Carrington presented Carrie Underwood with the “Female Artist of the Year” award at the American Country Awards in Las Vegas on Dec. 9.
“That was my first time going to Vegas, first of all — that was pretty cool, just kind of experiencing that whole thing,” said Belt, who attended the ceremonies with his wife, Haylee.
“We were going, anyway. We knew a producer at FOX. She was going to get us tickets, and tickets for two of our friends. Then she called me and said, ‘Hey, we had this great idea of having some baseball players get up there and present an award.’
“She wanted me to call Buster and Matt first. She asked me if I would do it with them. Nobody would do it, so it was just me and Barry and Rodney Carrington. We got after it.
“I didn’t want to do it, didn’t want to get up in front of all of these people and look like an idiot. But when I did, it was so much fun. I knew I was going to get a ton of crap for it. But I got a kiss from Carrie Underwood.”
Pablo Sandoval: Adding to his heroics
Sandoval, who hit three homers in Game 1 of the World Series, hit a two-run shot to lift Navegantes del Magellanes to the Venezuelan league title in Game 7 of the series on Jan 30.
“That was great because it was in my hometown,” Sandoval said, referring to Valencia, which actually is about 25 miles from his hometown of Puerto Cabello. “It was special for me, very exciting.”
As good as hitting three homers in a World Series game?
“Nothing can compare with that,” Sandoval said. “That was one of the greatest moments of my life.
Ryan Vogelsong: Playing golf at Pebble Beach
Vogelsong and Matt Cain were part of the Giants’ contingent that participated in the Chevron Charity Shootout between the Giants and San Francisco 49ers on Feb. 5.
“That was pretty cool, pretty special — my first time at Pebble Beach,” Vogelsong said. “I got to play a couple of rounds. Cain got to play a couple of rounds. I played one round with (PGA golfers) Matt Bettencourt and Hunter Mahan.”
The shootout was decided by a “pitchoff,” and Vogelsong’s pitch was closest to the pin, according to the Monterey County Herald. The team of Vogelsong and J.T. Snow raised $60,000 for the Sun Street Center of Monterey County.
Bruce Bochy: Finding new parental pride
In December, Giants assistant general manager Bobby Evans extended an invitation to spring training to the manager’s son, Brett, a right-handed reliever who had a 2.53 ERA and 14 saves last season at Double A.
“Brett kept asking me about it. I told him, ‘You’re crossing the line now. I’m not going to make that decision,’” Bruce said. “But when Bobby Evans called him, he was real excited.
“It’s pretty special. I know how hard he’s worked to get here. He had a great year in Double A. I’ll enjoy watching him here.
Brett, 25, was the Giants’ 20th-round pick out of the University of Kansas in 2010, two months after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Sergio Romo: Getting sized for another ring
Romo said the highlight of his offseason did not occur until early in spring training when he lined up with his teammates to be fitted for his second World Series ring.
“Everyone was saying, ‘What’s your size?’ I already knew mine. I remembered it from the other one (in 2010),” Romo said. “But I went ahead and got it a half-size bigger, just in case I grow into that, get a little bigger when I’m older.
“Just seeing the faces on those who were getting rings, just to be around that again, that happiness, that was great.”
Tim Lincecum: Finding an epiphany
I’ve saved the best for last.
Lincecum said he took his first “real” vacation, spending six days with his girlfriend at a resort in Mexico. But he said his other offseason highlight was “just kind of finding an epiphany toward baseball.”
Lincecum likened the experience to, “Seeing a light that … opened up a whole bunch of exciting feelings in yourself that make the upcoming season right now more of an exclamation point than a question mark.”
How, after a trying 2012 regular season as a starter and electrifying postseason as a reliever, did Lincecum find that epiphany?
“You’re kind of just in touch with yourself, coming into contact with your weaknesses and accepting those weaknesses and knowing how to get out of them, how to work with them,” he said.
“Before, it was just denial. It was one of the things that kept me from being open to change, just because I’ve been doing things my way or my father’s way for so long. It’s nice to be open to change and know that I’m adapting and that changing doesn’t mean losing my roots or losing the things I’ve learned before. It’s adding on.
“I do a lot of analyzing and thinking myself about why things went the way they did. I have those answers in my head. They’re personal. But when I find the right answer and I know that this is the road that is going to take me to success, then putting in the work is actually just going to make everything just way easier.
“Last year, it was a matter of, ‘Man, am I going to have energy that day, are my mechanics going to work?’ Now it’s just, ‘Well, I’m in shape. My mechanics are getting in sync more than they ever have been at this level, at this time.’ It’s more excited than worried.”
The defending world champions can’t wait.
Bring on the new season.