CHICAGO Xavier Nady might be the best pulling guard in theleague.
Oh wait. Whats that? No. 68 is a baseball number? Really?
Yeah, they were getting on me in the outfield about mynumber, said Nady, and no, you never need to provide ammunition to WrigleyFields beer-soaked bleacher creatures.
But hey, its a uniform and Im happy to be here.
Never mind whats on the back. Nady was just thrilled itsaid San Francisco on the front.
The Salinas native and Cal alumnus made an impact in hisfirst at-bat with the Giants on Saturday, lacing a two-out, bases-clearingdouble down the left field line and into the corner as the Giants took a 5-2 victoryover the Chicago Cubs.
Nady will start in left field again on Sunday, as the Cubsthrow a left-hander. Giants manager Bruce Bochy plans for Nady to be in thelineup for his AT&T Park debut Monday afternoon, too, when the ArizonaDiamondbacks throw left-hander Patrick Corbin.
Nady cant wait for that experience. But for now, his debutwas enough to enjoy.
We needed that, been looking for it, Bochy said.
Have they ever.
Hard to believe, but entering the game, the Giants were 1for 45 with two outs and the bases loaded this season. No misprint: They hadONE hit in FORTY-FIVE at-bats with two outs and the bags juiced.
So it was no small thing when Nady stepped up in the firstinning, just after Hector Sanchez had his jersey brushed with the bases loadedto give the Giants a 1-0 lead. Nady looked at a sinker off the plate, then tookan aggressive swing at the next one.
It felt good, Im not going to lie, Nady said. Like I wastelling the guys, there were such good at-bats there, Hectors at-bat in frontof me. Hopefully Ill continue to have opportunities like that and beproductive in those situations.
Could Nady provide the same kind of lightning-in-a-bottle presence that Pat Burrell did when picked off the scrapheap in 2010?
"He has experience, he can hit and no question,hell help us," Bochy said. "Hell get some playing time.
(In fact, pushing Gregor Blanco to the bench strengthens theGiants in another respect. They didnt have a version of Darren Ford to call upfrom the minor leagues, since Gary Brown has been nicked up and isnt deemedready to bring his game to the majors yet. So Bochy agreed with the suggestionthat Blanco will give them speed off the bench, as well as late-inning defense.He replaced Nady in left field in the sixth.)
Maybe Nady earned himself a better number, too -- at least something a little lower than what they give the rookies they plan to cut in the first week of spring training. Clubhouse manager Mike Murphy said he'll find something more suitable.
Or will Nadybe superstitious and stick with No. 68, which was randomly issued to him?
Its a nice number, he said, smiling. Just to put the union and run out there was special.
Its a uniform Nady long envisioned buttoning up. He grew upjust a big Bay Area baseball fan in the era of Will Clark and CarneyLansford. He might have gone to more As games (the tickets were moreaffordable), but he enjoyed watching both teams. He even took batting practicein San Francisco at a workout in 2000 on the eve of the draft, when the SanDiego Padres took him.
After last season, which ended with a broken hand, Nadycalled Giants manager Bruce Bochy his old skipper with the Padres andpitched his services several times.
It was a strange offseason, Nady said. I finished with abroken hand and it was weird. There was no interest. It was almost March 20, Isigned with the Nats and it didnt start out the way I wanted.
But Im here and Im part of a good organization and a goodteam.
(Lets get one more bit of confusion out of the way: Nadywill be eligible to play in the postseason, should the Giants make it. Whetherhe was added on Aug. 31 or Sept. 1, it doesnt really matter. You only need tobe in the organization on Aug. 31 to replace an injured player, and the Giants canalways use the Freddy Sanchez loophole to get Nady onto a playoff roster.)
Nady was released in early August after hitting .157 withthree home runs and six RBIs in 40 games. He hadn't appeared in a major leaguegame since late June because of an ongoing wrist issue, but insists heshealthy now.
I knew going to (Triple-A) Fresno and all that wouldbenefit me and hopefully Id have an opportunity, the 33-year-old said.Playing every day, seeing pitches, obviously was extremely helpful.
Just one day into his Giants career, Nady already seems likea helpful guy to have around.