Giants come into season healthier

Vince Cestone, Staff Writer

The San Francisco Giants would probably admit they were not in the best physical shape in 2013.

After winning the World Series in 2012, the Giants suffered their first losing season in five years, with a 76-86 record. Part of that was because of the number injuries sustained, but poor offseason conditioning was a factor too.

Fans could point fingers at Pablo Sandoval’s weight gain or Buster Posey’s breakdown in the second half of 2013, but the Giants learned from their mistakes and have hit the gym for 2014.

After Sandoval tweeted pictures showing his new-and-improved body, the Giants saw the slimmer, quicker Panda firsthand when he reported to Scottsdale.

Sandoval stayed in game shape this offseason by playing in the Venezuelan Winter Leagues and eating healthy meals prepared by a professional cook — his brother Luis.

If the weight loss leads to improved range at third base, there may not be a need for a late-inning defensive replacement. Sandoval hopes that is the case.

“I’m preparing in my mind to play nine innings. For 162 games,” he told Alex Pavlovic, Giants beat writer for the San Jose Mercury News .

An enigma last season was Posey’s second half. After the All-Star break, he hit just .244 with two home runs and 16 RBIs.

This followed a Posey-like first half, when he hit .325 with 13 home runs.

The Giants’ All-Star catcher doesn’t want a repeat of his sluggish second half. Posey said he added 10 pounds of muscle this offseason and he looked noticeably more muscular when he showed up to FanFest on Feb. 1.

One of the newest Giants, outfielder Michael Morse, is trying to overcome health issues of his own. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Morse is blaming his abysmal 2013 season —when he hit just .251 and had a .651 OPS with the Mariners and Orioles — on a wrist injury.

After finding the proper hand specialist, with the help of former Giant Mark DeRosa, Morse told reporters last week he is now pain free.

If Morse’s wrist has indeed healed, the Giants may get to see the 2012 slugger who hit .291 with 18 home runs and 62 RBIs in 102 games. That is not bad for a potential seven-hole hitter.

Although the Giants have bolstered their lineup with a healthy Morse and solidified their starting pitching with Tim Hudson, the team does have flaws.

San Francisco did little to upgrade its pitching depth. If any of the starters go down to injury, the Giants would have to rely on a minor-leaguer to fill the spot, since they lost Chad Gaudin to free agency. The Giants’ AAA affiliate, the Fresno Grizzlies, had a combined 4.62 ERA in the Pacific Coast League, and most of their top pitching prospects, such as Kyle Crick, are in the lower minors.

The Giants have the same depth issues on the bench. They do not have adequate replacements if a key player goes down.

If Angel Pagan were to go down to injury again, the Giants will have to rely on Gregor Blanco to fill the spot. That did not go so well last year.

Time will tell if the hard work at the gym will pay off for the Giants, but in a time when baseball is full of complete athletes, the Giants have put themselves in a good position to have a memorable 2014 season.

If they stay healthy, the Giants should win anywhere between 88 and 92 games in 2014.