NEW YORK -- You could say the Giants' season has gone as crooked and gnarly as Marco Scutaro's mallet finger. His left pinky.
"Sometimes," Scutaro said, "when you play with pain, it a little bit hard to play with joy."
You could also say, that just like Scutaro, the defending World Series champs are not deterred by the detour they've taken in falling eight games under .500 at the All-Star break. Because, as far as World Series hangovers go, some time off could work as an elixir, of sorts. So yeah, the Giants were actually looking forward to it, especially after taking three of four, including Tim Lincecum's yeoman-like no-hitter, from the Padres.
[BAGGARLY: Giants midseason report card]
"It could have came a little earlier, to be honest with you," left-hander Madison Bumgarner said Monday at All-Star media day with a chuckle of the break. "We finished off winning a series down in San Diego so it's a positive to go into the break. But I think everybody was looking forward to it, particularly if we come back and have a strong second half. I think we will."
Bumgarner said a team meeting in San Diego -- the Giants had lost 16 of 19 heading into their series at AT&T Park South, er Petco Park -- helped right the ship. Even if he could not put a finger -- no, not Scutaro's crooked digit - on what has ailed them.
"Man, I don't know, it's been tough," he said. "So many guys get hurt and guys have to start doing things that they're not used to and it gets hard after a while. If you do that for just a couple weeks here and there (that's O.K.), but you got to do it the whole season? It makes it tough on everyone."
Despite it all -- the Giants were a season-high 10 games under .500 before the Padres series -- San Francisco sits just 6 1/2 games out of first place in the National League West at 43-51. Granted, in fourth place.
So no, they are not done. Not even to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"Every team in our division has kind of gone through a rough patch," said left-hander Clayton Kershaw. "You can never really say the Giants are out of it. They're a great team, especially if Lincecum starts throwing the ball the way he's capable of, and they get (Matt) Cain going, they're really going to be in it with their pitching. Can't take them for granted."
The Giants have four All-Stars in Scutaro, Bumgarner, catcher Buster Posey and closer Sergio Romo, a late add as a replacement player.
Romo seemed to be enjoying the moment the most as, after the N.L.'s media availability ended, he took the placard with his name on it from the curtain behind him, raised it over his head and took a slow, somewhat celebratory jog through the assembled media and fellow All-Stars in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda at Citi Field.
"I'm an All-Star," he said softly, his voice rising slightly with each syllable and every step. "I'm an All-Star."
What, you expected the Giants to be down?
"I feel like we did turn a little bit of a corner in San Diego, (though) the last game didn't really show it," Posey, the reigning N.L. MVP, said with a shrug, referring to Sunday's 10-1 loss.
"But I think it's good for guys to get a blow and kind of take a step back. That will help. But at the same time, you saw the way we finished in San Diego -- it's not like we were trying to just get to the break. We were still pushing."