AT&T PARK — The boys are officially back in town as of Friday morning, when Bruce Bochy and a myriad of San Francisco Giants players took their first chance to talk to the media in 2015.
Coming off their much lauded third World Series title in five years, it’s hard to ignore that the pitching staffs of each respective championship team are what drove them to glory.
These very pitchers are set to report to the Cactus league February 18, and Giants Manager Bruce Bochy has the tall order to find the right way of getting a predominantly veteran staff through another 162-game season.
With at least seven proven pitchers on staff who are more than capable of starting on opening day, Bochy told SFBay that the Giants have a good kind of problem:
“It’ really nice to have this depth, and it’s nice that you could give the guy a break if he needs a start off … Hopefully our five starters will be locked in and healthy, and take you all the way to the postseason. But if not, then it’s nice to know you have two experienced guys who can come in and start for you, but also eat up some innings for you in the bullpen. So this is a workable situation.”
Starting pitcher Matt Cain expects to give a boost to rotation after woefully underperforming in the Giants 2014 campaign. Cain finished with a disappointing 2-7 record and a 4.18 ERA before his season ended in August to an elbow injury.
During his recovery process, Cain said he started throwing five days a week in preparation for the upcoming season. He added that he has a lot to prove, and said he is full strength heading into Spring Training:
“I’ve underperformed the past year and a half, and that’s something that I don’t want to do again. … I’ve got about the same range of motion as I did when I signed when I was 17. Everything should be right on schedule and should be ready to go.”
Another face returning to the mound will be veteran Tim Hudson, who finally secured his ever-elusive World Series ring. Hudson is projected to be in the starting mix once again, but told SFBay this may be the last of season of his potential Hall of Fame career:
“I’m definitely leaning that way, for the most part I feel really good and pretty confident that this is going to be it. … Flying from Kansas City to San Francisco after the World Series, I think I retired about five times. My wife (talked me out of unretiring), normally the wives want you to retire, so I don’t know how to read that.”
Strickland made a name for himself last season for his blazing fastballs, but struggled in NLCS after giving up multiple home runs throughout the series. Strickland told SFBay he made improvements to his pitching in the offseason, while veteran long reliever Jeremy Affeldt added that veterans are mentoring the younger players to help them mentally prepare for the long season ahead:
“I think that’s the best way to run a pitching staff, is to have a bunch of veterans help a few young guys that are going to take our jobs. … I think there are a lot of young guys here that have a lot of talent, and a lot of skill, and now it’s just about maturing their game. It’s not a question of ‘can they do it?’ it’s about the mental side and maturity of how to handle yourself at the big league level.”
With Opening Day less than two months away, Bumgarner said the overall continuity and depth of the staff is something he’s excited about when the season begins, and said he thinks the Giants can do big things in the odd-numbered year of 2015:
“I feel good about (the staff), we’ve got a lot of the same guys that we had the last few years, with the exception of a few,” he said. “I feel good about the guys we brought in to fill those voids, and man I’m looking forward to 2015. I think we have a championship caliber club again.”