SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- During idle moments at his Los Angeles-area home this offseason, Brian Wilson occasionally reached into a candy jar that he stored in his kitchen. What he inevitably grabbed was sweeter than any chocolate. This jar, which Wilson described as a relic from a previous Halloween, was where the right-hander decided to stash the ball he flung past Nelson Cruz for strike three and the final out of the Giants' Game 5 World Series clincher at Texas. "I put it in there and thought, 'I'm not going to lose it there.' And it was a delicious treat, winning the World Series," said Wilson, the health-conscious closer who forsakes candy. "I pick it up every once in a while, play catch with it, toss it around and think, 'Wow. That was special.'"
Every Giant who shared the 2010 season with Wilson would wholeheartedly agree. That largely explained the presence of several position players at the Giants' clubhouse Monday, along with the 34 pitchers and catchers who were due to report. Outfielders Pat Burrell and Cody Ross, third baseman Pablo Sandoval and second baseman Freddy Sanchez were among the early arrivals whose scheduled reporting date is Friday. The initial full-squad workout is slated for Saturday. "The reality is, last year's over," Burrell said. "It's a mindset. What do we have to do to get back to where we were? Well, it starts now. It's going to be harder than it was. We have a target on us and everyone's gunning for us because teams want to beat the best. And that's how it should be. We need to be ready for the challenge."
Manager Bruce Bochy hopes that other Giants share Burrell's attitude. Referring to last year's postseason, Bochy said, "They're unforgettable memories and you should savor them. At the same time, you should focus forward. You're not a world champion for two years. It's for one year. You have to remind yourself that you have work ahead of you." None of the Giants seemed to need reminding. Tim Lincecum kept his valuable arm limber by playing catch with rookie left-hander Clayton Tanner. Pitching coach Dave Righetti, a perpetual-motion machine during typical workout days, already was on the move to monitor other hurlers. Bench coach Ron Wotus headed toward the practice diamonds with a fungo bat to smack grounders. Hitting coach Hensley Meulens filled a shopping cart with the first of hundreds of loads of baseballs. Even at rest, the Giants were intent. Catcher Buster Posey tightened the laces of a glove to prepare it for heavy duty. Sanchez liberated a new bat from its packaging and inspected it for flaws. "This clubhouse has not changed since I've been here. Everyone works hard," Wilson said. "Every single pitcher is here ready to go. A lot of the position players are here, even though their start date is [later]. They're getting ready. They know what's at stake. They want to win." The reputed experts doubt that San Francisco can repeat as champions. No National League team since the 1975-76 Reds has won consecutive World Series. But Bochy doesn't want history to burden the Giants. "We certainly believe in ourselves and what we're capable of doing," he said. "We're not going to get caught into what the expectations or the predictions are. Last year, I don't know when we were the favorites, ever. We found a way to get it done. We're fine with that. To us, it doesn't matter what other people think. It's what we think. We'll try to keep that philosophy." Beneath the businesslike approach rested a foundation of pure joy, a harmless by-product of the World Series hangover. Right-hander Sergio Romo, for example, virtually danced to his dressing stall. Having reached his destination, he acknowledged his enthusiasm for returning to work. "Just to be around the guys again, to get that feeling that you belong all over again? Yeah," Romo said.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.