SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (CBS / AP) — Angel Pagan has no problem making bold statements at the start of spring training: He’s calling a repeat championship for San Francisco in 2013.
With nearly the same roster returning from last fall’s special run to the title – the second in three years for the franchise – Pagan figures, why not?
“I think we’re going to repeat,” he said upon arriving at spring training Friday. “We’re positive about this team. We’re going to get lucky again, like people said.”
Along one clubhouse wall at Scottsdale Stadium are the lockers for Pagan, Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez – all in a row. The three are connected in a rare scenario in which Torres and Ramirez were traded to the New York Mets for Pagan before last season, and now both are back with San Francisco alongside Pagan after they helped the Giants win the 2010 World Series.
“We may have to break that group up,” manager Bruce Bochy joked.
Longtime equipment manager Mike Murphy put them together on purpose “so they can talk about what happened.” Murphy also made a point to split up the close-knit Latino players throughout the clubhouse.
Pagan and Torres also will play together in the World Baseball Classic for Puerto Rico.
“It fills my heart to go out there and play in front of my countrymen,” Pagan said.
Pagan kept in touch with second baseman Marco Scutaro during the offseason, then both wound up re-signing with the Giants as they had hoped.
Scutaro reached agreement on his $20 million, three-year deal with the Giants a day after Pagan was rewarded with a $40 million, four-year contract. He wanted stability for his family, and he got it.
Pagan insists nothing will change now. He plans to play with the same passion despite all the dollar signs.
“The peace of mind is there,” Pagan said. “My bank account did change, but my passion for the game didn’t change. I just want to leave my heart on the field. … I signed this contract and the expectations are really big, as well as to myself.”
Pagan, the team’s leadoff hitter, batted .288 with eight home runs, 56 RBIs and a San Francisco-best 15 triples in his first season with the Giants.
Scutaro, 37, hit .362 with three homers and 44 RBIs in 61 regular-season games with the Giants after he was acquired in a July 27 trade with Colorado. World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval expects to stay healthy after injuries slowed him last season.
“I think that’s the best thing we have, the chemistry’s the same,” Pagan said. “There are some additions but the atmosphere is going to be the same. The way we got along last year, it doesn’t get any better than that.”
For Bochy, having so many familiar faces back for 2013 makes his job easier in terms of players knowing what to expect from him and how he runs a club.
“I think it’s fair to say we’re as set as we have been in recent years,” Bochy said.
Right fielder Hunter Pence is among the position players who showed up early, eager to get going in his first spring training with San Francisco after getting traded by the Phillies last summer.
He offered some wisdom Friday morning:
“Enjoy this day because you never know when an exploding meteor’s going to hit,” he said.
The quirky Pence is another key part of this winning group. The Giants know even with two trophies in three years, many will expect the big-spending Los Angeles Dodgers to win the NL West.
And, that’s OK with these guys.
“This team, you don’t need anything else, when you have a championship team,” Pagan said. “I don’t need the credit. When you don’t get the credit, that’s what makes you hungry to go out there and prove people wrong. It’s not good to be the favorite.”
Notes: The World Series ring sizing is under way in the clubhouse, with LHP Jose Mijares and OF Francisco Peguero getting their fingers measured Friday. … Bochy expects Ramirez to arrive within a couple of days after visa issues in the Dominican Republic. … RHP Tim Lincecum had another strong outing in his second spring bullpen sessions, mixing in more offspeed pitches than two days ago. Bochy liked his mechanics, saying, “he looked comfortable, I thought he looked good.” Pitchers will face live hitting for the first time Sunday. … Quotable: “Make no mistake about it, I like home runs, I like power,” Bochy said. “I do think we will hit more home runs.”