SAN FRANCISCO – Did Brian Wilson really care what kind of reception he got in his return to AT&T Park on Tuesday night?
Hardly. Even in a Dodgers uniform, the Bearded One didn’t give it much thought.
“Whether it’s a cheer or boo doesn’t really matter,” Wilson said after pitching a scoreless eighth inning in relief of the Dodgers’ 2-1 win over the Giants.
The crowd reaction was decidedly mixed — a standing chorus of boos mixed in with a healthy dose of cheers for Wilson, who spent his first seven seasons with the Giants and recorded 171 saves.
He reminded Giants fans of good times, entering the game in the eighth and getting two called third strikes and one fly ball out to help preserve the victory for starter Hyun-Jin Ryu. In 12 1/3 innings over 16 games since signing with the Dodgers last month, Wilson has given up just one run, a 0.73 ERA.
Manager Don Mattingly isn’t discussing his possible playoff roster, but Wilson’s work has virtually guaranteed him a spot in the bullpen. The fact he was used in a setup role in a one-run game clearly demonstrated Mattingly’s faith his ability to hold a lead.
“He’s been working his way back and getting the ball more and more,” Mattingly said. “He’s been really good for us. That was a spot for him. It wasn’t no dramatics there, just get three outs.”
Wilson’s approach has been steady and consistent. He’s not thinking about the past, only about what he can do to help the Dodgers. So facing his former team was no big deal.
“Just another normal eighth inning, another normal win and a normal game,” he said.
But didn’t he take a little satisfaction in showing the Giants, who chose not to re-sign him, that he still has his stuff after undergoing Tommy John surgery for a second time?
“If anything, I’ve shown them exactly who I’ve been,” he answered. “Nothing’s going to tear me down. You only need two people to believe in you, God and yourself. It doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks.
“I already told everyone that I’d be ready and I am. It’s not like a surprise, at least to me it’s not. I’m exactly where I should be.”