Giants retain veterans Schmidt, Winn

Giants bring back veteran leaders for 2006

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants may be getting younger overall, but a cadre of key veterans will be back in 2006, including ace right-hander Jason Schmidt and hot-hitting outfielder Randy Winn.

On Thursday, San Francisco exercised its $10 million club option on Schmidt and $5 million option for Winn, while outfielder Moises Alou ($6 million), second baseman Ray Durham ($7 million) and relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins picked up their player options for next year.

Schmidt, troubled by injuries in 2005, won only 12 games, but he's still considered the No. 1 starter. Winn had a fabulous second half after being traded from Seattle on July 30, and was named the National League Player of the Month in September after hitting .447 with 11 homers.

Schmidt had come off 25 victories in 2003 and 2004 and was a two-time NL Cy Young Award candidate entering this season, yet a "dead arm," and subsequent shoulder strain and right groin problems, limited his effectiveness.

When healthy, however, the 32-year-old two-time All-Star is among the best pitchers in the league, and the Giants needed his experience for 2006 with the rotation containing youngsters Matt Cain, Noah Lowry and Brad Hennessey.

Schmidt said before the season ended he wanted to return to San Francisco.

Winn, a Bay Area native, will be a vital returnee. He filled the void when veteran Marquis Grissom was released, and he kept the club in the NL West division race until the final week.

Alou's vaunted power stroke was hindered early by a calf problem, and he was also placed on the disabled list with a hamstring strain. Still, Alou was the Giants' All-Star selectee, and the 39-year-old continued a legacy of great San Francisco players with the Alou surname.

He joined father and Giants manager Felipe Alou by signing over the winter, while his uncles Matty and Jesus also played for the Giants.

But Moises' offense was the key, as he batted .321 with 19 homers and 63 RBIs this past season, including 41 multihit games. Despite the injuries, he still played in 123 games and had outstanding defense.

While there was speculation Durham was suffering through another season of leg problems, the 33-year-old infielder stayed off the disabled list for the first time with the Giants, and the switch-hitter batted .290 overall and .306 with runners in scoring position. He also made 131 starts at second base, much more than anticipated.

Hawkins wasn't up to par when initially traded from Chicago, as he battled ulnar neuritis, but overall he boasted a 2.70 ERA over his last 40 outings. Hawkins wasn't able to convert nine saves, but he did improve as the year -- and his strength -- got better.

Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.