SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Moments before Bruce Bochy addressed his full squad for the first time in 2013, the Giants’ manager ambled over to Hunter Pence’s locker.
“You want to say something?” Bochy asked Pence, smiling.
It’s hard to imagine what Pence might say moments before the first workout of the spring. “I want 250 more days with you” just doesn’t have the same gravitas, does it?
So Pence, the Pied Piper of last year’s playoff gauntlet, was happy to let Bochy do all the talking in the 20-minute meeting. The manager’s message: Be proud, be grateful … and be relentless.
“Enjoy what you did but it’s a new year and it’s time to focus forward,” first baseman Brandon Belt said. “Never be satisfied. I think as players, that’s our attitude. We’re not taking it for granted because we know how hard it is.”
Left-hander Jeremy Affeldt particularly liked the simplicity of one of Bochy’s lines.
“If you enjoyed it last year, let’s try to do it again this year,” Affeldt said. “Baseball can be a game of empty promises. One thing I’ve learned is that this game never promises you anything. The one thing we do have here is a sense of comfort because we know each other and we know what we have to do individually. But nobody can be complacent and expect it to just happen.”
A few players were half-expecting Pence to follow up Bochy’s talk.
“I’m right next to Hunter’s locker and I’ll admit I looked over a few times,” Belt said. “But no, I think this was the first day, the whole, 'let’s get acclimated' kind of thing. He’ll spring it on ‘em later.
“We did talk about it, though–-maybe get him up there for all 162. I’m not sure either he or we could handle that.”
Said shortstop Brandon Crawford: “He’s intense but he’s not that intense. I did hear some grunts in batting practice, though. That’s the effort he gives all the time, even on the first day.”
Pence appeared to be working on going to right field during batting practice, but he yanked a few pitches onto the left field berm. Pablo Sandoval, fresh off an MVP performance in the Venezuelan Winter League playoffs, was a line drive machine from both sides of the plate. Bochy cited those two players as the reason he expects the Giants to hit more home runs in 2013.
It’ll get more interesting when pitchers begin facing hitters on Monday.
“This is always a good day,” Bochy said. “They’re excited about seeing each other. This is a favorite day for everybody when you get the full squad out here.”
Maybe Bochy’s speech didn’t get his players primed to run through a wall, but that wasn’t the goal on Day One. Besides, some of them only needed to look around the room to get all the positive reinforcement they needed.
“It says a lot about the front office’s confidence in us that they wanted to bring everyone back,” Crawford said. “When I see them commit to (Angel) Pagan, to (Marco) Scutaro, that’s sending a message to the rest of us. It’s, 'We believe you guys can do it again.’"