Giants ready to begin title defense
Some 100 fans who braved a dreary, windy day in the desert hovered over the dugout at Scottsdale Stadium to get a glimpse of the Giants' two-time NL Cy Young Award winner getting to work.
Manager Bruce Bochy leaned on the batting cage to assess his ace.
Lincecum allowed Pat Burrell to line the first pitch to right field for a base hit, but that was about all Burrell did as the first hitter the Freak faced.
"I'm going for it, baby," Burrell said.
This from the guy who went 0 for 13 with 11 strikeouts and was benched for Game 4 of the World Series at Texas. He had 22 strikeouts in 49 at-bats overall during the postseason, then re-signed with the Giants for $1 million this winter.
Lincecum looked forward to finally letting it go against live hitters, even if they were his own San Francisco teammates.
He arrived at the ballpark Saturday morning, quickly got dressed and started his music player, then scurried away from his corner locker to find some breakfast to fuel himself for a big day.
"I'm a competitive person. You don't want to go out and get line drives hit back at you," Lincecum said. "When the hitter steps in the batter's box it's a whole new mindset. It's like, 'OK, I've got to turn this on whether it's my team or not.' That's the way I've always approached it."
The World Series champions have been reunited at spring training, their first time on the field together since winning it all last year in an improbable title run. They completed their first full-squad workout and plenty of batting practice before a downpour soaked their spring facility.
Giants special assistant Will Clark was all smiles.
"There's something to be said for having a short offseason -- it means you did something right," he said.
New shortstop Miguel Tejada began his day on a back field at 8 a.m., taking grounders and doing his individual work more than two hours before the team got going as a group.
"When BP starts, I'm already warmed up," he said.
Cody Ross, Burrell and Aubrey Huff stretched together in right field -- a reunion of the castoff and misfits who were so integral in bringing San Francisco its first championship since moving West in 1958.
Not that the Giants are talking much about it now, even with an MLB film crew following their every move.
"We had our great offseason and enjoyed the aftermath, but today's Day 1 and we have to start over," said Ross, the NLCS MVP who came to the club on a waiver claim in August. "That's over with and we have to start now and do it again."
Third baseman Pablo Sandoval is eager to forget much of his 2010 season.
Slimmed down to a fit 240 pounds after a rigorous offseason workout regimen, he was as eager as anybody to get going -- even joining Tejada for some early work. This is Sandoval's fresh start after he batted just .268 with just 13 homers and 63 RBIs in his second full season in the big leagues.
The Kung Fu Panda, as he's called, hopes to return to the form he showed in 2009, when he hit .330 with 25 homers and 90 RBIs in 153 games.
"He looks great. It's evident how hard this guy worked this winter to get in the kind of condition he's in," Bochy said. "First swing, it looked like he was trying to make a statement. I think the most important thing with Pablo is he's gotten himself back in shape and he'll be out there on a mission to show that he's back and we'll see the player that we saw a couple of years ago."
Bochy acknowledged that when he addressed the team Saturday he was reminded of how proud he is of this bunch and just what it took from everybody to pull off a World Series victory.
"It was a pretty neat feeling to stand up there and look at the world champions," he said.
The skipper wasn't the only one a tad bit sentimental on Day 1.
"This is where we've got the whole crew back," Lincecum said before disappearing into the cafeteria to find that breakfast.
NOTES: Backup C Eli Whiteside said there is no structural damage in his tender right elbow. He underwent an MRI exam Friday as a precaution after the elbow swelled. Whiteside expects to miss a couple of days.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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