Giants players react to Brian Wilson signing with Dodgers
Brian Wilson threw the pitch that clinched the first championship for the San Francisco Giants back on Nov. 1, 2010. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
PHILADELPHIA – Brian Wilson is expected to be wearing Dodger blue long before Sept. 12, when the Giants renew acquaintances with their archrivals for the first of seven games remaining in their season series.
Yes, it’s going to be strange to see that black beard tickling that blue script. But Wilson’s former teammates did not express any feelings of betrayal upon hearing that the three-time All-Star was defecting to the enemy.
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In fact, Sergio Romo and Matt Cain were among those to text congratulatory messages to Wilson, happy to see their former teammate back in baseball after a second Tommy John surgery to reconstruct his elbow 15 months ago.
‘’He’s the best example of willpower I’ve ever seen in my life,” Romo said. “If he wills it, he finds a way. So I’m very happy for him. I’m happy he signed.”
Still, Romo had to let out a chuckle after saying, the words, “He’s a Dodger.”
“I’m just happy he has a job,” Romo said. “I see the person. I know what he’s made of. So to see him in another uniform is just to see a friend playing baseball.”
[RATTO: Wilson to Dodgers is just business]
Wilson signed a major league deal worth $1 million plus incentives, according to Jim Bowden of Sirius radio. Wilson is expected to be with the Dodgers in two weeks, and perhaps less, after going to their Arizona complex and logging a few appearances with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.
Wilson fired up his Twitter account for the first time since Oct. 19 to send a message to fans: "Thank you to the fans in San Francisco. It was an honor to pitch in front of you for all those years....Even though I'll be wearing a different color your impact in my life will never be forgotten."
The Giants saw Wilson throw privately on two occasions before he showcased himself last Thursday in Los Angeles. Although CEO Larry Baer said the team was interested in bringing back Wilson and wanted to keep the door open to return in the future, GM Brian Sabean engaged in a public back-and-forth with the right-hander’s agent, Dan Lozano, in February.
The Giants didn’t make a formal offer and interest would have been higher if they were in a better place in the standings. Interest from Wilson would’ve been higher, too. He is looking for maximum exposure as he tries to parlay six weeks into a nice contract this winter, and pitching for a second-division club isn’t the best fit for him.
Wilson reportedly had interest from the Tigers, but only if they guaranteed him the closer role. He’s expected to be a setup man with the Dodgers, who have been desperate for bullpen help and even signed Carlos Marmol earlier this month after the Cubs dumped him.
Wilson was throwing 94 mph with movement on his cutter and some feel for his changeup, according to those who saw his recent throwing sessions.
“I’m definitely curious to see what he’s featuring,” Tim Lincecum said.
Stuff wise? Or beard wise?
“All of the above,” Lincecum said. “He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen, so I know that’s going to be a reflection of what you’ll see.”
Cain called it “kind of bittersweet that he’s with our biggest rival,” but said he was proud of Wilson for bucking the odds and coming back from a second Tommy John.
“I probably had some doubt, but not very much,” Cain said. “Knowing what he does to get ready for a game, and how obsessed he is with his body, making sure it’s functioning right, you knew he’d work hard.”
What about Giants fans? Will they put aside the rivalry and be happy for Wilson, too?
“I think it’ll probably be mixed emotions,” Cain said. “Once he comes back and pitches, there might be some hard feelings from fans, but probably just as many will be excited to see he’s back out there again.”
What did Cain text to Wilson?
“Good luck,” said Cain, “and hopefully you’ll hang me a slider if I get to hit off you.”
Other emotions might come out the first time Wilson pitches against them – especially if the Dodgers are in position to clinch the division at AT&T Park when they visit Sept. 24-26.
Wilson throwing the clinching pitch to beat the Giants? Now that would be rock bottom.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy was asked his thoughts on Wilson joining the enemy:
“You may want to ask me that question when we’re playing the Dodgers, if he’s there,” the manager said.