Scenes from Spring Training: The Giants are relaxed

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I got here just as the Giants’ clubhouse was opening.  What it lacks in luxury compare to the Diamondbacks’ palace out at Salt River, it makes up for in tranquility.  Bruce Bochy doesn’t need to bring in Navy Seals to teach the Giants how to deal with it. They’ve dealt with it.  They’re the champs and they know it.  Random observations:

Brian Wilson walked into the clubhouse right behind me. He was drinking a Starbucks and holding a folded USA Today.  I would have expected absinthe and some anarchist tract. Either his carrying of the symbols of the corporate bourgeoisie are part of an ironic put-on or else he’s not quite the loose cannon he pretends to be.

But don’t worry: Wilson was later seen giving an interview to a print reporter, sitting on a metal bleacher seat in a still-chilly stadium while wearing his underwear and t-shirt, so he’s still wacky.

The lineup had just been posted on the bulletin board. Miguel Tejada (batting third) and Travis Ishikawa (batting ninth) were looking at it. Ishikawa to Tejada: “Third? I thought that was for the best hitter on the team. What are you doing hitting third?”  Tejada to Ishikawa:”Not hitting ninth.”

It’s been written several times already, but seeing Pablo Sandoval up close really brings home how much damn weight he has lost.  He doesn’t merely look good for a fat guy. He looks good. And it’s not just fat. His shoulders and arms are fairly awesome. And it may or may not be worth noting that he love, love, loves to sing aloud and dance some to his iPod.

Tim Lincecum is starting today. He came in with a pony tail, wearing a vaguely Asian-looking sweatsuit/pajama thing and carrying an iPad in a battered leather holder. It was all very zen. How anyone’s iPad holder can be as battered as his so soon in the product’s life is a mystery to me. I can’t decide if Lincecum takes it rock climbing or if he pays a premium to some trendy boutique that pre-weathers iPad holders for well-heeled customers.

    A TV was on in the little room where players were eating breakfast. A report of Adam Wainwright’s Tommy John surgery came on.  Players watched the report silently. There was no singing and celebration. I just thought I’d get out in front of that one in case Hal McCoy is hanging around here and heard it differently than I did.
    For reasons I can’t really explain I watched Barry Zito stretching on the field. I feel obligated to note that he seems able to stretch his arm and shoulder way more than the other players can. This is important. This means something.

The best thing of all this morning? The grills are fired up here in the ballpark.  Beer is being dispensed. There’s a mediocre cover band committing atrocities of 1970s classic rock hits out on the concourse. It’s on, babies. A real baseball game between two teams.  In a little bit over an hour, pitches will be thrown in anger.

And all is right with the world.

Ken Giles: ‘I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston’

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Blue Jays closer Ken Giles hasn’t exactly turned things around since joining the Blue Jays on July 31, when the club sent embattled closer Roberto Osuna to the Astros. Giles posted a 4.99 ERA in 30 2/3 innings with the Astros, then put up a slightly less miserable 4.58 ERA in 17 2/3 innings with the Jays. Still, he’s much happier with the Jays than he was with the Astros, even after winning the World Series with them last year. He said to Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star, “I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston. It’s kind of weird to say that because I won a World Series with that team. But it’s like, I just felt trapped there. I didn’t feel like myself there. Overall, I felt out of place.”

Giles also said “the communication was lost” with the Astros and it was something that came easy with the Jays. He said, “When I came here, they stayed patient with me. I said hey, I want to work on this thing till I’m comfortable. All right. OK, I’m comfortable, let’s move on to this next thing. Pitching, you can’t just try to fix everything at once. For me, I had to take baby steps to get my groove back. The Jays allowed me to do that. Yeah, the team was out of contention, but it doesn’t matter. It’s still my career. I still have to prove myself. Them being so patient with me, understanding what I want to do, was very, very big.”

Giles, 28, has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining. He has shown promise despite his overall mediocre numbers. In non-save situations this season (with both the Astros and Jays), he has a 9.12 ERA. But in save situations, his ERA is a pristine 0.38. Giles could be a closer the Jays find themselves leaning on as they attempt to get back into competitive shape. Since it sounds like Giles is quite enamored with Toronto and with the Blue Jays, a discussion about a contract extension certainly could be had.