McGehee confident in ability to man hot corner
Veteran knows he has big shoes to fill with Pablo Sandoval's departure
SAN FRANCISCO -- The atmosphere at the Giants' annual FanFest is relaxed, good-natured and fun. However, an undercurrent of concern swept through Saturday's event at AT&T Park -- specifically, around third base.
It became evident during a question-and-answer session that many of the Giants faithful wanted Casey McGehee to address an issue that he can't deal with until the regular season unfolds: Exactly how does he plan on replacing third baseman Pablo Sandoval, the popular Panda who fled to Boston in free agency?
McGehee, acquired in December in a trade from Miami, expressed sincere respect for Sandoval, who possesses power that McGehee can't match. Sandoval has 106 homers in 869 career Major League games to 65 in 711 contests for McGehee.
"I liked watching Panda from across the field," said McGehee, a veteran of six big league seasons. "And you guys shouldn't forget what he did. ... There's only one Panda."
Demonstrating confidence that he can succeed just as effectively as Sandoval, albeit less colorfully, McGehee added, "I know my style of play. Sometimes the 25-hopper through the infield or a grounder to shortstop works as well as a home run."
First baseman Brandon Belt, who joined McGehee on the same panel, vouched for his new teammate's ability.
"His style of hitting works in any ballpark," Belt said of McGehee, a .264 career hitter. "He's going to be great for us."
Having joined a team that won three of the previous five World Series, McGehee's objective for this season was predictable.
"I want one of the rings that these guys already have," he said.
More often, these sessions generate hilarity as players gently ridicule each others' comments in fan forums or playfully reveal little-known facts.
For example, left-hander Javier Lopez doesn't take the field until he downs a peanut butter-banana-and-honey sandwich on wheat bread.
And Belt never has selected the walkup music that accompanies each of his plate appearances. Last season, it was Jay-Z's "99 Problems."
"I'm not 'gangsta,'" Belt said, prompting considerable laughter from the audience.
Manager Bruce Bochy revealed that he continued to dream about last year's World Series for several days after its conclusion, leading him to awaken in the belief that he had to concoct another lineup. Asked shortstop Brandon Crawford, "Where would I hit in that lineup?"
Right-hander Matt Cain won the sympathy and admiration of parents in the audience when he divulged which "super-power" he'd like to possess.
"I wish I could be Supermom like my wife [Chelsea] is," Cain said, praising her skill at caring for both of their children.
No FanFest -- in fact, no day spent around the Giants -- would be complete without a few friendly insults lobbed at Jeremy Affeldt, the engaging left-hander whose talkative nature often elicits feigned annoyance from teammates.
A fan complimented the trim physique of Cain, who remarked, "It's from looking at Affeldt and noticing what happens when you get old and eat a lot."
Affeldt joined catcher Buster Posey and right-hander Tim Hudson on the afternoon's final panel, which was asked to name the teammate they'd most and least like as a roommate.
Hudson expressed reluctance to share quarters with Madison Bumgarner.
"He's too big and has too much hair," Hudson said, preferring the smaller, more clean-cut Matt Duffy.
Posey observed that the soft-spoken Crawford would be an ideal roomie: "I could get some sleep even if he's talking to me."
Affeldt employed similar logic in selecting Cain as his would-be roommate. "He gives you one-word answers," Affeldt said.
Playing along with the teasing heaped upon him, Affeldt said that his least desirable roommate/teammate is "probably myself." A little later, however, the gentlemanly Posey countered all the abuse Affeldt received by recalling the reliever's clutch performances in each of San Francisco's last three postseasons.
When the applause from the audience subsided, Posey felt compelled to tell Affeldt, "Don't say I didn't say anything nice."