Center fielder Denard Span eager for home debut with Giants
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Denard Span spoke to his mother in Florida by phone last week and expressed how he still can't quite believe he's playing all the way out West in San Francisco.
''It's getting there. It's starting to sink in,'' Span said. ''A couple days ago I was kind of thinking to myself I really can't believe I'm all the way out here in California playing baseball. I was telling my mom that. I'm a Florida boy, East Coast guy. I'm out here and I'm preparing myself for an exciting season.''
Span's parents, Stanley and Wanda Wilson, are traveling from Tampa, Florida, to be in the stands for their son's home opener with the Giants on Thursday against the three-time defending division champion and rival Los Angeles Dodgers.
Jake Peavy, 8-6 last season, will make his 2016 debut for San Francisco against Dodgers left-hander Alex Wood at sold-out AT&T Park.
''It's a beautiful ballpark. All of us are lucky to get an opportunity to have that as our home ballpark,'' Span said. ''The fans are also unbelievable. It's just an exciting feeling to come. I'm used to being on the visiting side.''
New Dodgers manager Dave Roberts makes his return to San Francisco, where he played his final two seasons of 2007 and 2008, for his first experience on the other side of this rivalry.
On Saturday, it's the first edition of Clayton Kershaw-Madison Bumgarner after they matched up four times in 2015.
''You look for those matchups, those are marquee matchups,'' said Matt Cain, the Giants' starter on Friday night. ''Those are the ones that you're looking for. It's just always going to be a fun game. Those guys are going to battle, you know they're going to be intense.''
This will be the eighth overall meeting between the ace lefties, with Bumgarner owning a 4-2 record with a 2.58 ERA to Kershaw's 2-4 with a 2.12 ERA. The Giants are 3-1 when facing Kershaw on days Bumgarner pitches.
The Giants are off to a strong start already, having won their season-opening series in Milwaukee with two victories. Span homered and drove in five runs in his Giants debut as San Francisco won Monday's opener against the Brewers 12-3.
Span - out of the lineup Wednesday because of the flu - is eager to see not only the upgraded rotation with Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija but the entire roster the Giants hope will bring them another championship in an even year this decade - like in 2010, `12 and `14.
''The whole team, man, the whole team,'' Span said. ''We've got a good team on paper. We've still got to go out there and play. It's nice to go into the season with everybody healthy and with an exciting roster.''
The Bumgarner-Kershaw matchup could be a highlight in the opening homestand for the Giants.
Not that Bumgarner gets too excited about it.
''If I wasn't pitching it would be a fun matchup to watch but I've got to focus on what I've got to go out there and do, but I do enjoy watching good matchups like that,'' he said. ''Regardless who you're facing you've got to go out there and do your job. It seems like it's that way pretty often (facing Kershaw). We know that we've got to win every game that we can win.''
More than anything, Giants manager Bruce Bochy expressed how thankful he is to have a healthy roster from the start this year.
Bumgarner and Co. know how much that will help determine what they do this season.
''Just having all the guys we had hurt last year, having those guys back, that's huge for us. We couldn't do what we wanted to do without those guys,'' the big lefty said. ''And front office, management, going out and making the additions that we did, it's going to be a really, really good team. I'm excited and I'm sure everyone else is. All the fans are excited to watch us get going.''