SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants are putting their own twist on the old saying, "Getting the band back together." This spring, they're getting multiple bands back together.
Not only did general manager Brian Sabean quickly re-sign three of his key free agents -- Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro and Jeremy Affeldt -- in the offseason, but he also brought back two members of the 2010 championship squad, Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez, both of whom were once traded for Pagan.
In a National League where the Dodgers hand out blank checks, the Cardinals boast a star-studded crop of prospects, the Braves are uniting the Uptons and the Diamondbacks, Reds and Nationals all added key pieces, it's easy to ask: Why stand
In the Giants clubhouse, they're asking a different question: Why mess with success?
"It was a pretty special group last season, and you can't replace that," right-hander Ryan Vogelsong said. "I think (management) realized how special it is to have a group come together like we did. That's something that doesn't happen all the time when you have 25 different guys."
Twenty-one of the guys who celebrated on the field in Detroit last October return, including all five starting pitchers, the entire lineup and six key relievers. Only Guillermo Mota, Aubrey Huff, Ryan Theriot and Xavier Nady are missing from the World Series roster, and Brian Wilson remains a free agent as he recovers from his second Tommy John surgery.
That season, and the quest for a repeat, begins Tuesday when pitchers and catchers report to Scottsdale Stadium. The Giants will hold their first full-squad workout on Saturday, when
The Giants' bid will come against a vastly improved division, but within the clubhouse, there is a strong belief that the team is as talented as any in baseball. More important, the Giants believe they possess a special blend. They'll shelve the rally throngs, flying sunflower seeds and passionate speeches for now, but they insist that they won't rest on their rings.
"I think the core group of guys on this team realizes that to continue getting better in this game, we have to constantly keep making adjustments," catcher Buster Posey said. "We have to try different things and keep pace and keep going where we want to go."
Posey, the reigning National League Most Valuable Player, will lead the way. But as much as he's the face of the franchise, he's also a shining example of what can derail a repeat run. The Giants led the division on the morning of May 25, 2011. That night, Posey's season ended in a home-plate collision with the Marlins' Scott Cousins. Injuries to Freddy Sanchez and Wilson further weakened a club that ultimately finished eight games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Sabean said building depth, and thus the ability to withstand injuries, is one of his biggest concerns heading into the season.
"That's what short-circuited us in 2011," he said. "We hope that doesn't happen this year, because we like our club and their talent and makeup."
The 2011 squad also was undone by down years from the likes of Huff, Torres, Cody Ross and Pat Burrell, all of whom were major contributors to the 2010 championship team. There was a common thread in that group, one that doesn't weave as strongly through the 2012 squad. The 2011 repeat bid was built on the backs of aging veterans, while this year's run will be led by a slew of twenty-somethings who should be hitting their primes.
"We're younger this year, and that should definitely help," said 24-year-old first baseman Brandon Belt. "If we avoid injuries, we'll have a good chance. We're the defending champions.
"We're going to go out there and play like it."
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