Programming note: For comprehensive Giants coverage from Arizona, watch SportsNet Central tonight at 7 p.m., 10:30 and midnight on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Angel Pagan jogged out to the field and took his spot at the front of a line of stretching outfielders. He ran sprints, and then he threw with Gregor Blanco as the two warmed up their arms on a chilly morning in Scottsdale. Pagan will take unrestricted batting practice and he’ll be ready for exhibition games, he said.
“I’m good, I’m perfect,” Pagan said. “I feel like never before. Right now, I’m pain-free.”
Pagan is in a Giants uniform for the first time since having back surgery on Sept. 25 to repair a bulging disk and nerve damage. The Giants would go on to win a World Series title without their leadoff hitter, but Pagan said he has no regrets about the decision he made with just six games remaining in the regular season.
“I was part of it,” he said of the title. “I believe I helped the team a lot during the year to put them in the right spot. For me, it’s satisfying.”
Pagan hit .300 on the nose, scored 56 times and stole 16 bases. But for the second straight year his season was characterized more by the games he missed than by the ones he played. The back injury cost Pagan 57 games, and he said it was a problem going all the way back to spring training. Pagan called his mornings "miserable" and said he jumped in a hot tub some days to get his body loose. On Tuesday, Pagan said that last season's back pain “wasn’t letting me by myself on the field.”
The Pagan the Giants have come to know is a player who is electric atop the lineup and, for most of three seasons, made the lineup go. Pagan says he will still be that guy, and he won’t change his game to prevent injuries.
“I just know how to play at one speed,” he said. “That’s the way I’ll keep playing.”
He said that will be the case no matter where he hits in the order. Pagan has in the past made no secret of his preference to hit leadoff, but manager Bruce Bochy has floated the idea of free agent addition Nori Aoki hitting first and Pagan sliding down to third or fifth if the lineup needs a jolt.
“I’ve hit in every spot in the lineup in my career,” Pagan said. “You don’t change your approach. Right now, we just have to sit down and see how everything plays out. Whatever (Bochy) ends up doing, I’ll respect.”
Bochy maneuvered his way to a third title without Pagan leading things off, and the 33-year-old said he watched the stirring series from home, jumping up and screaming when Alex Gordon’s liner got past Gregor Blanco and went to the wall with one out remaining in Game 7. Pagan said that moment served only to make an incredible series a bit more exciting. Minutes later, the Giants formed a dog pile that was missing Pagan, and the center fielder started texting teammates to congratulate them.
“At the end of the day, when all is said and done I felt happy,” Pagan said. “Because they picked me up as a teammate.”
Alex Pavlovic will appear on Yahoo SportsTalk Live tonight at 7:30 p.m. and 11 to discuss all things Giants at spring training.