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Giants' winning culture is palpable

Organization has built right environment for sustaining success
MLB.com @RichardJustice

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It's a bottom-line business, and the San Francisco Giants get that part of it. Inside the trophy case at AT&T Park, there's validation for winning three World Series and nary a mention of heart, hustle or chemistry.

Funny thing is, every person in the Giants' organization says those things were vital to winning those three championships. Again, though, the bottom line is the bottom line.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It's a bottom-line business, and the San Francisco Giants get that part of it. Inside the trophy case at AT&T Park, there's validation for winning three World Series and nary a mention of heart, hustle or chemistry.

Funny thing is, every person in the Giants' organization says those things were vital to winning those three championships. Again, though, the bottom line is the bottom line.

So the Giants will not celebrate a 2015 season in which they missed the postseason. Nor will they mention how it happened:

• That the second, third and fourth hitters -- Joe Panik, Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence -- spent 176 games on the disabled list.

• That two starting pitchers, Matt Cain and Jake Peavy, spent a combined six months on the disabled list.

• That the Giants were still within 1 1/2 games of the Dodgers on Aug. 23. That a bitterly disappointing season still ended with an 84-78 record.

"It was such a reminder that so many things can go haywire," Giants general manager Bobby Evans said.

Back at work this spring, the Giants are optimistic. Pence and Cain hope to be healthy by Opening Day. Two veteran starters, Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto, have been added to the rotation, and a veteran outfielder, Denard Span, was signed to play center.

Is there a sense of confidence? No, it's not that simple. Teams that have won as much as San Francisco has won in recent years are always confident. The Giants also know that October is a long way away.

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However, this being an even-numbered year and all, there's at least some bit of karma on San Francisco's side. Those three championships came in 2010, '12 and '14. In the odd-numbered years, the Giants missed the playoffs.

There's no more admired organization in baseball than this one, and not just because of the winning. From stability at the top of the masthead to a roster chock full of homegrown players to maybe the best home ballpark environment in baseball (408 consecutive sellouts and counting), the Giants are in a place every organization would love to be.

First, there's the culture.

"Stability is a big part of it," Samardzija said. "Also, guys go out of their way to make you feel welcome, to feel a part of things. I've been working out here for a couple of months, and I couldn't have been made to feel more a part of things."

Plenty of that begins with the environment constructed by Bruce Bochy, who has crafted a Hall of Fame resume during 21 seasons managing the Padres and Giants. If he's not the most respected man in baseball, he's on the short list.

"I didn't fully understand it before I got here in 2014," Peavy said. "To witness it, to be part of it, it's special. I played for Bruce Bochy in San Diego, so I knew what he was about. But it's the entire organization. It's [team president] Larry Baer and the baseball operations -- Evans and Brian Sabean.

"It's a family atmosphere. They care about you. There's accountability in the room, but it's also an accepting, nonjudgmental, be-yourself attitude. We're going to go about it a certain way. It allows guys to be free, it allows guys to be comfortable. It's bred a pretty good brand of baseball."

Bochy defers to his players on that kind of thing. He points to five homegrown infielders -- catcher Buster Posey, third baseman Matt Duffy, shortstop Brandon Crawford and Panik and Belt at second and first.

Bochy said the environment reflects a larger story about the Giants. That they focus on character in player development. That they want guys who love the game and are committed to being better.

"It takes work," Bochy said. "You create that environment through your commitment to each other and the way you play the game. But you have to have the right characters in there. We have a bunch of guys who care about each other."

Bochy refers to those five homegrown infielders, saying, "They're Giants. They take a lot of pride in wearing the uniform. Not that the other guys don't. But it's pretty cool when you look out there and have five players you developed. They're all high-character guys. They make my job easier. There's no maintenance with any of them. They're pros."

Bochy watched with pride in recent seasons as a string of veteran players joined the Giants from other organizations and as the organization's best prospects -- Crawford, Panik, Belt -- arrived. All were welcomed into the fold.

Posey is the only everyday player who has been part of all three championship teams, but the transition has been seamless.

"They've always had a spirit of hospitality," Bochy said. "If you're a rookie, and you're here in Spring Training or you're called up, you're welcomed here. We'll help you through your struggles. They've been great about that. They've created something you have to have in a team sport.

"When you bring in guys from the outside, it's easier to keep it working right. But like I said, you have to work at it. It doesn't just happen. Our guys do a great job of it."

Posey is the quiet leader, the rock. Pence is the emotional guy, the one giving the fiery pregame postseason chats and leading the victory celebration. In the Giants' clubhouse, it's a nice fit.

"It takes good people," Pence said, "and hospitality goes a long way in any business. We're going to allow you to be comfortable being yourself. Everyone lets you know, 'Hey, we need you. Let's go.' That's our message. We've got to get everyone on board. We're family. We've got a goal to accomplish, and what's the best way to do it? The more we support each other, it gives us a better chance."

Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U.

San Francisco Giants