SAN FRANCISCO — At some point this month, Bruce Bochy will stand in front of his players in the home clubhouse at Scottsdale Stadium and deliver a motto for the season. Jeff Samardzija already knows what it should be.
“The words coming out of my mouth all spring will be ‘start fast,’” Samardzija said during an appearance on The Giants Insider Podcast. “You can’t win it in the first month but you want to be right there for a good summer run and then a late fall run, too.”
The Giants got a reminder of that reality last season. They were 10 games out of first by May 9, and before the weather ever got warm they had been buried by the Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Rockies. Some would look at last year’s NL West standings and see a problem for 2018. Samardzija watched three division rivals make the postseason and saw an opportunity. He remembers how hard the Giants had to grind physically and mentally to make it to the NLDS the year before.
“We know we’ve got three playoff teams coming into the season in our division, but (those are) three teams that had long seasons, you know, and battled and left a lot out there,” he said. “Hopefully we can pick it up early and get off to a fast start and see where we’re at.”
To make sure this April follows a different path, the Giants brought in Evan Longoria, Andrew McCutchen and Austin Jackson. Samardzija is very familiar with McCutchen, having faced him 40 times over the years, mostly while both were in the NL Central. He already has run into Longoria at the Scottsdale facility, and he certainly will benefit from the addition of Jackson, who will help shore up an outfield defense that hurt Samardzija more than any Giants pitcher.
Samardzija said the group is already bonding and they have found common ground in a trait that outsiders view as their potential downfall. The Giants have added three 30-somethings to an already old team, but the 33-year-old Samardzija said that has become a rallying cry.
“(We’re) joking around about our ages. That’s the cool thing about having a bunch of veteran guys,” he said. “Everyone has thick skin and has been there and is able to take things with a grain of salt. Everyone understands that the stories will be written after the 162 games are played and that’s when it matters.”