SEATTLE -- Barry Zito's life changed just a little Wednesday.
Between the time the Giants starter toured the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Clinic in Seattle in the morning and the time he was officially awarded that organization's Hutch Award, he sent a quick text to his wife, Amber, at home with the flu.
"I'm on board here," Zito said in accepting the award, given annually to the major leaguer who best exemplifies the honor, courage and dedication of former big league pitcher and manager Fred Hutchinson. "This is a cause I'm involved in now. I texted my wife; I had to check with the boss, and then we made a donation.
"My mom (Roberta) was diagnosed with cancer in 2003. She passed in 2008. She had a tumor behind her eye and lost vision in the eye. It was interesting to see the psychological struggle and the way it can beat somebody down."
Zito made the decision as a spur of the moment thing, but his philanthropy is long-standing. He's best known for starting the group Strikeouts for Troops, but his hands-on approach to community service began when Roberta Zito needed a liver transplant.
And now it has a new outlet.
"I was amazed by what I saw at the Hutch labs today," he said. "They have made a real difference. I was in there watching them work with DNA. It was incredible."
Speaking of incredible, Zito pitched what could be considered the biggest game of the season for the Giants in 2012. With San Francisco on the road and facing a 3-1 deficit in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series, he threw 7.2 innings of shutout baseball over the Cardinals, spearheading a revival of Giants pitching that led San Francisco to three straight wins and a berth in the World Series.
It was an abrupt reversal for Zito, who was 15-8 in 2012 after five consecutive losing seasons in a Giants uniform.
"When you are faced with adversity, instead of resisting it, you have to learn that there are gifts in it," Zito said. "A lot of people gave up on me, but my wife, my family and my teammates knew the answer was to go out and do my best and enjoy the job. It's important not to lose sight of those things that bring you fulfillment.
"Going into that game in St. Louis, I never looked at the odds in the newspaper, but we all knew we had the cards stacked against us. My goal was to give it all I had. I wasn't going to sit back later and wish 'What if?' That attitude carried us through to a World Series sweep (over Detroit)."
Now that the Giants have two World Series titles in the last three years, Zito and his teammates come into spring training in two weeks in the spotlight.
"The expectations will be higher than ever," Zito said. "But that's OK."