The 1982 Giants pose more questions than Barbara Walters. To mention just a few: Who's pitching? Will balls hit to the right side of the infield, where 37-year-old Reggie Smith and 38-year-old Joe Morgan are supposed to play, splash On Golden Pond? And what do you serve with Chili Davis?
The first question is the biggie, because Manager Frank Robinson, recently named to the Hall of Fame, has a completely new rotation. Gone is last season's cast: Doyle Alexander, to the Yankees; Vida Blue, to the Royals; Tom Griffin, to the Pirates; Allen Ripley, to the Cubs; and Ed Whitson, to the Indians. In their place are retreads and never-weres, some of whose 1981 earned run averages tell a sobering tale. Rich Gale was 5.38 at K.C. and Dan Schatzeder 6.08 with Detroit. However, Robinson is convinced that last year was an aberration in every way. In 1980 Gale won 13 and Schatzeder 11. Robinson is betting they'll win about 30 games between them this year. For other starters he'll make do with rookie Alan Fowlkes, who has just two years of minor league experience, and Al Holland, a superb reliever who must now replace Blue as ace of the staff. Greg Minton and Gary Lavelle are joined in the bullpen by Renie Martin, formerly with the Royals.
To get Gale and Schatzeder, the Giants traded away outfielders Larry Herndon (to Detroit) and Jerry Martin (to Kansas City), leaving the coast clear for Jack Clark, the veteran prospect, in right; Jeff Leonard, who seems to have blossomed as a major league hitter, in center; and Chili Davis, the newest Giant wunderkind, in left. Davis, 22, was the hitting sensation of last spring, and, much to his surprise, stayed with the big club for the first month of the season before he was shipped back to Phoenix, where he hit .350 with 19 homers in 88 games. Davis is a supremely confident, level-headed youth who thoroughly enjoyed being, as he put it, "a pheenom," and now feels he's ready for legitimate stardom. The Giants have one of the youngest outfields in baseball—Leonard and Clark are only 26—and with Darrell Evans (35 in May) at third to go with Morgan at second and the old Dodger, Smith, at first, they have one of the oldest infields.
Smith, who has been an outstanding switch hitter, will be getting a new baseball life as the Giants' first baseman. For all intents, he had retired after last season when he had only 35 at bats for the world champion Dodgers. A shoulder injury, suffered in July 1980, had left him unable to throw, and he was, he said, "preparing myself for another career outside the game. I had dealt with the reality of not playing." But Smith's arm regained much of its old zip, as he discovered in the off-season when he suddenly could throw a football more than 50 yards. The Giants were desperate for a power hitter who could play first, and Smith had played 87 of his 1,881 major league games there. General Manager Tom Haller called him. As Blue said shortly after he was traded, "The San Francisco organization appears not to have any sense of direction."
Since 1969 the Giants have made 2,093 errors, or 81 more than the San Diego Padres, the National League's second most error-prone team. The only year San Francisco ranked higher than ninth in fielding percentage in the league was 1975. In 1971 the Giants became the only major league team to win the division championship while leading the league in errors.