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Holland eyes spot on his family's favorite club

Veteran left-hander is competing to make Giants' Opening Day rotation
MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Should Derek Holland win a job on the Giants' Opening Day rotation, he'll learn plenty about Willie Mays and Willie McCovey, Stu Miller and the 1961 All-Star Game, the Alou brothers, Masanori Murakami, Bobby and Barry Bonds, Jack and Will Clark, Brian Johnson, the 'Stick (Candlestick Park) and the Shooter (Rod Beck). Count on it.

That's a reminder: He'll hear about John "The Count" Montefusco, too.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Should Derek Holland win a job on the Giants' Opening Day rotation, he'll learn plenty about Willie Mays and Willie McCovey, Stu Miller and the 1961 All-Star Game, the Alou brothers, Masanori Murakami, Bobby and Barry Bonds, Jack and Will Clark, Brian Johnson, the 'Stick (Candlestick Park) and the Shooter (Rod Beck). Count on it.

That's a reminder: He'll hear about John "The Count" Montefusco, too.

It's all due to the company Holland keeps. The left-hander's uncles, Wes and Warren Henderson (who surely remember outfielder Ken Henderson) are ferocious Giants fans dating back to the Strat-O-Matic era of the 1960s.

"They tried to give me trivia," Holland said Sunday. "Of course, I failed that because I don't know enough about the history of San Francisco. But I'm learning. It's part of the gig."

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Holland, who's in camp as a non-roster invitee, said that his uncles were "very ecstatic" upon learning that he was invited to compete for a spot in the Giants' five-man pitching rotation. Holland's rivals will include Chris Stratton and Ty Blach, who have been cited by manager Bruce Bochy as the favorites to claim the starting vacancies.

If a starting job seems unattainable, Holland might compete for a bullpen role. He'll have to be flexible, kind of like Bob Bolin, Ron Herbel and Scott Garrelts.

Holland has experienced more big league success than adversity. The 31-year-old owns a 69-64 record and a 4.57 ERA over nine seasons, the first eight of which he spent with the Texas Rangers.

Holland insisted that he has overcome the knee and shoulder injuries that began bothering him after he posted a 38-21 record in a three-year span (2011-13). He made two appearances in the 2010 World Series against the Giants, walking all three batters he faced in Game 2 before working a shutout ninth inning in Game 4.

Last season, Holland's performance ranged to similar extremes. After recording a 2.37 ERA in his first 10 starts, he slumped to a 7-14 overall finish with a 6.20 ERA for the White Sox. Holland attributed his troubles to not making enough adjustments as the season progressed.

"The way I look at the season, to me it's not a failure," Holland said. "I was healthy all year. That's the biggest plus out of all of it. ... I felt like there were a lot more positives than there was negatives."

Holland said that his mere presence in camp revived his attitude. Ryan Vogelsong, Javier Lopez and men of their ilk often felt the same way.

"To have the opportunity to have teams calling to give me a shot shows that there are a lot of believers out there," Holland said. "I'm a firm believer in myself. Obviously, that's how it should be."

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast

San Francisco Giants, Derek Holland