PHILADELPHIA -- Many Giants fans will consider Brian Wilson a heel now that he’s signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
So perhaps it was fitting that he looked like a WWF-era wrestler when gossip site TMZ “caught” him walking randomly down Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. In his first public comments, Wilson said he’s excited to be back, and he had no choice to flip sides in the rivalry because the Giants didn’t want him back.
“I don’t worry about rivalry, bro,” said Wilson, who looked noticeably bulkier in an American flag tank top and his beard tied at the base in the style of Capt. Lou Albano. “I just play baseball. You know, if there are 30 teams out there and 29 teams don’t want me, what am I going to do, say I’m not going to play baseball?”
Asked how Giants fans will feel about seeing him in Dodger blue, Wilson said, “I’ve got much love for San Francisco. We had a good time. But there’s nothing I can do. They don’t want me back so it’s all good. I’ll just play baseball hopefully here with the major league team and see if I can help them win.”
The Giants might have had more interest in Wilson if they were atop or nearer to the NL West lead. CEO Larry Baer has maintained his interest every step of the way. But he also said it was a baseball decision he left in the hands of GM Brian Sabean, and “you really should ask him about that.”
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It’s clear on some level, there were conflicting emotions within the Giants’ hierarchy about bringing back Wilson, who rubbed some people the wrong way when he turned up suddenly, after being gone all season, to cavort in the dugout during the playoff run when he knew the national cameras would be trained on him.
Baer continues to keep the door open for Wilson to re-sign with the Giants in the future, telling me on Tuesday that the deal with the Dodgers “doesn’t mean he’ll never be a Giant again. People go and come back.” But the writing is on the wall at this point. And don't forget that Sabean and Wilson's agent, Dan Lozano, had a public back-and-forth in February over whether Wilson was holding out for more guaranteed money.
That's history. The real question, then, is what kind of impact Wilson can have down the stretch, after making a few minor league appearances for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga –- and how he can position himself for a deal this winter.
Talking to Dodgers officials at the winter meetings last December, they were concerned about how Wilson’s “act” would play over a 162-game season if things went south. Those concerns are mitigated over what amounts to a six-week trial and $1 million, plus some performance incentives.
Wilson cited Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, who was the Giants’ assistant GM when he was drafted in 2003, as being a reason he signed with L.A.
“Well, Ned Colletti drafted me in 2003 after my first Tommy John so he’s giving me another chance,” Wilson said. “I’m just grateful to be playing baseball again. … I feel great. I’ve worked out pretty hard to get myself back and the only thing I can do is compete and that’s about it.”
Wilson also joked that he’d get former Giants teammate Juan Uribe to introduce him to Yasiel Puig.
“I’m (bleeping) excited,” Wilson said. “I like baseball. I need it. It’s been a 16 month grind. I’m back.”