Giants try for another championship season in an even year
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) It's an even season and the San Francisco Giants expect to be contending for another World Series championship.
Just as they did by winning it all in 2010, `12 and `14.
No matter that San Francisco is in a dominant division featuring the three-time defending NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers and the much-improved Arizona Diamondbacks with big-money ace Zack Greinke.
Giants general manager Bobby Evans brought in top-tier starters Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija to boost an already impressive rotation, committing a combined $220 million for the two right-handers.
''We're trying to go for another championship, another ring here, it's going to take all of us,'' new center fielder Denard Span said.
Cueto signed for $130 million over six years and Samardzija received $90 million for the next five seasons.
Each spring training, manager Bruce Bochy said, a manager might ask himself whether he has the group that could chase a championship eight months later.
As he surveyed San Francisco's talent in the clubhouse at Scottsdale Stadium this spring, there was no doubt in Bochy's mind - and he knows a thing or two about what it takes to win in October.
''If you look at this team, Bobby Evans did a great job of assembling this club. He added depth to the rotation and to the outfield,'' Bochy said. ''I'm sure more is expected out of us, which they should. It's a really good ballclub. It's going to be a tough division with the teams in this division and the improvements made here. We expect more out of ourselves than what anyone else expects out of us. That's who we are. You've got to go out there and do it. It's a very solid club.''
Here are some things to watch for with the Giants:
POSEY'S POISE: Catcher Buster Posey can't wait to catch Cueto and Samardzija along with all of the other pitchers he already knows so well.
And the Giants star expects big things from everybody after the Giants missed the playoffs last season.
''This is a great opportunity for all of us with the amount of talent that we have,'' Posey said. ''We've got to try to make the most of it.''
PAGAN'S MOVE: Bochy appreciates Angel Pagan's professionalism accepting a move from center field to left to clear room for Span, who also will move into the leadoff spot Pagan used to own.
''These two are going to help us in the outfield. We just think it's the best way to go,'' Bochy said. ''To have two center fielders out there, that's a nice luxury.''
The Giants hope Pagan, in the final year of a $40 million, four-year contract signed in December 2012, stays healthier because of it.
Pagan returned from back surgery last season to hit .262 with 21 doubles, three homers and 37 RBIs in 133 games. He played in only 96 games during the 2014 World Series run and 71 in 2013 because he was hurt.
CAIN'S COMEBACK: Matt Cain had a cyst removed from his upper right arm Feb. 25 but is expected to be full go.
The right-hander, who had injury-shortened seasons in 2014 and 2015 after elbow surgery and arm issues, wants to contribute a full season in the rotation and return to the dominant pitcher he was when he threw a perfect game in June 2012.
''We've seen him just a couple of years ago carry us in the playoffs,'' Posey said. ''He was a No. 1. You're talking about a guy that could be pitching some days as a 1, could pitch as a 2 or a 3. It would be hugely important to have him be successful this year.''
HEALTHY PANIK: Second baseman Joe Panik wants to quickly rediscover his All-Star form from the first half of last season before he hurt his back and it derailed his year.
Panik, limited to 100 games, batted .312 with eight home runs, 37 RBIs and 119 hits, and might have been on pace for 200 hits if he had stayed healthy.
''You really do feel like a new man,'' he said. ''It's great to feel normal, just the way I felt every other year.''
LIGHTS-OUT BULLPEN: Javier Lopez. Sergio Romo. Santiago Casilla. These three relievers have proven on the biggest stage that they are among baseball's best, forming a reliable relief corps that allows Bochy to mix and match in the late innings. While left-hander Jeremy Affeldt retired and Yusmeiro Petit departed for the Nationals, Chris Heston can work as a swing man able to start or relieve after throwing a no-hitter last season as a rookie.