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Before last season, Brandon Belt provided some bulletin board material when he told the FanFest crowd in San Francisco that “you can’t buy team chemistry.”
Free agent acquisition Michael Morse is new to the Giants-Dodgers rivalry, but that didn’t stop him from weighing in with a comment that Belt would be proud of.
“Sometimes having big pockets doesn’t always necessarily factor into winning,” Morse said in an exclusive interview with CSN Bay Area. “The Giants, they know how to win. The players on the team have World Series rings. I think that is an edge on a lot of teams in this game.”
Morse signed a one-year deal with the Giants despite reportedly receiving a better offer from the Houston Astros. The chance to contend was more important than the total value of the contract, according to Morse.
“They won two World Series in the last four years so it’s a team that I can be a part of that has experience,” he said. “They want to win and they have a chance of winning. Everyone on the team has done something very special in their career.”
The Giants are coming off a disappointing 76-86 season, but Morse is optimistic that last year’s failures will only fire up the 2014 team.
“The feeling of winning and then the feeling of not winning, it really chews up your stomach,” Morse said. “It makes you want to play even harder the next year to win again. So especially coming off the year they just had, this is – I think for me – a great time to be a Giant.”
Morse said he is looking forward to meeting many of his new teammates, but has spent time with Pablo Sandoval on a 2011 MLB All-Star team Bruce Bochy managed that played five games in Taiwan.
“I got to see what kind of guy Bochy is; he’s incredible, one of the great managers in the game.”
Morse’s respect for his new skipper will help him as he adjusts to his role with the Giants. While the promise of a starting job was one of the factors that lured him to San Francisco, Morse doesn’t have an idea where he’ll hit in a lineup that will include plenty of middle-of-the-order candidates like Sandoval, Buster Posey, Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt. For the 31-year-old slugger, his slot in the batting order is not important.
“Especially a lineup like we’ve got, it doesn’t matter to me,” Morse said.
Morse owns a .316/.435/.632 slash line in 23 at-bats at AT&T Park and isn’t concerned about the move to a pitcher-friendly ballpark.
“I stick with the same approach. To me, it’s one of those things where if you hit the ball good, it’s going to go out, no matter what park. Especially here, if you hit the ball good to right and it doesn’t go out, it’s going to hit off the wall and might be a triple or something very special.”
Morse, who is 6’5” and 245 pounds, is an intimidating presence in the batter’s box. That makes his walk-up song selection, A-ha’s ‘Take on Me,’ especially curious. But as a self-proclaimed fan of everything 80s, especially the music, Morse said the choice was easy.
“A lot of people play for their walk-up songs either what’s in style or something crazy,” he said. “I always thought I need something to put me in a good mood, make me connect with the fans. ‘Take on Me’ is a song that just relaxes me no matter what. So I started playing it for my walk-up song and every time they would turn it off, the fans would keep singing it. So it started being like a cult following kind of thing. It got really crazy. It’s pretty cool.”
Morse expects the tradition to live on at AT&T Park thanks to Giants fans, a group he expressed respect for.
“The fans here, one thing I notice is, they know their baseball. They’re not there just to watch and to eat hot dogs. They actually know what’s going on; they’re rooting for their team. They’re the 10th man.”
In line image of Michael Morse provided by USA Today Sports images