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Comeback from surgery motivates Strickland

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DENVER -- Hunter Strickland's gaze falls each day upon a vivid reminder of the adversity he has experienced.

Strickland, one of five players joining the Giants on Monday in their first round of Minor League callups, adorned his Coors Field dressing stall with a meaningful and graphic sheet of paper. It bore printouts of color photographs of his right elbow as he was undergoing Tommy John surgery in May 2013. Below the photos, Strickland printed, "Pain is weakness leaving the body."

Strickland posts the photos wherever he goes.

"It keeps me humble, to remember where you were at," said Strickland, 25. "I kind of feed off that stuff."

Strickland immediately demonstrated that his arm was worth the wait. He made his big league debut in the eighth inning of the regularly scheduled game Monday, blanking the Rockies despite allowing two hits and reaching 100 mph with a fastball to the first hitter he faced, Drew Stubbs.

Hunter Pence watched Strickland from his perch in right field and was duly impressed.

"He made a pretty big impression on everyone in Spring Training," Pence said. "He wasn't even that long out of Tommy John and he was throwing the ball really well. He's an absolute animal of a workout guy. We aren't too surprised to see him up here and I think there was a lot of excitement to see him on the mound."

Noting that he resumed pitching 10 1/2 months following surgery and was assigned to Double-A Richmond a year after the procedure, Strickland called himself "blessed" to receive this opportunity to make his Major League debut.

Strickland excelled with Richmond, recording a 2.02 ERA and 11 saves in 38 relief appearances. He struck out 48 and walked just four in 35 2/3 innings.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy indicated that Strickland could pitch meaningful innings down the stretch as part of the sixth- and seventh-inning contingent.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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