SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Almost midway through their calisthenics before Monday's opening full-squad workout, the Giants suddenly broke into rhythmic clapping, as if it were choreographed.As left fielder Hunter Pence revealed, the moment was indeed planned. But the feeling behind it was spontaneous. It also was welcome, coming from a team
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Almost midway through their calisthenics before Monday's opening full-squad workout, the Giants suddenly broke into rhythmic clapping, as if it were choreographed.
As left fielder Hunter Pence revealed, the moment was indeed planned. But the feeling behind it was spontaneous. It also was welcome, coming from a team that made little noise last year.
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Maybe this was just a fleeting, meaningless moment. Or maybe it symbolized that this year's Giants really are capable of contending for the postseason again with a unified effort.
Pence recalled how the Giants put their hands together.
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"Everyone was doing a random clap, and then a couple of us [thought], it'd be awesome to get a slow-clap going," Pence said. "Boch [manager Bruce Bochy] had made a statement about everyone being committed. Everyone committed to it, and you felt that energy and enthusiasm. It was fun."
The sense that 2018 truly represents a fresh start for the Giants began to set in with a glance at the bulletin board in the hallway outside their Scottsdale Stadium clubhouse. Hitters were listed in four-man groups for batting practice. The names appearing in the first group were:
The Giants didn't mess around. They gave their biggest hitters the chance to take their rips right away. The few hundred fans who wandered into the ballpark weren't disappointed.
Pence resembled a latter-day Tony Perez, his torso rocking back and forth to provide a timing mechanism for the line drives he repeatedly ripped. Buster Posey and Andrew McCutchen pulled homers to left field. Evan Longoria seemed to saunter in and out of the batting cage, exuding the charisma that made him Tampa Bay's all-time favorite performer.
Stimulating the offense is a chief Giants concern. They ranked last in the Major Leagues in homers (128) and slugging percentage (.380) and next-to-last in runs (639) and on-base percentage (.309) last year. They'll rely on the aforementioned quartet to improve in this area.
"When you see that group, it does excite you, the potential this offense has," Bochy said.
After the workout, left-hander Tony Watson, the newest Giant, explained why he decided to sign with San Francisco, which finished last in the National League West with a 64-98 record a year ago.
"It's pretty simple. Just look around this room," Watson said. "It's a room full of guys who know how to win. ... Playing against the Giants last year, it just didn't seem like a 98-loss team. It was a team with a lot of familiar faces. The core guys are still here."
Perhaps Watson was overly impressed by the three-game sweep the visiting Giants dealt Pittsburgh last June 30-July 2. Then again, maybe there's no underestimating a team that can field as many as seven All-Stars in the lineup.
In his 20-minute address preceding the workout, Bochy urged the Giants to maintain intensity and regain faith in each other. This, Pence said, was a mindset that the Giants started to share even as they struggled.
"You felt that brewing toward the end of last year -- everyone coming together and getting on board and building that chemistry," Pence said. "Because it takes a conscious effort to make that happen."
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.