Looking back, Schierholtz thankful Giants traded him
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OAKLAND -- The Giants shipped Nate Schierholtz to the rival Phillies at last year's trade deadline, and the Bay Area native never would have envisioned that it was exactly what he needed.

"That trade was definitely a big career move for me," Schierholtz said Thursday. "It was tough for me, because I loved playing for the Giants. It was something I took a lot of pride in, coming to the field and putting on that Giants uniform. But it came to a point where I needed to do what was best for my career.

"I didn't think that I was really in their future."

Schierholtz, now 29, played a career-high 137 games in the Giants' 2010 world championship season. On multiple occasions he appeared to solidify the starting job as the Giants right fielder, but Bruce Bochy's propensity to play matchups and the hot hand left Schierholtz with regular days as a spectator. The frequent benchings never allowed Schierholtz to get comfortable, but since he signed a one-year, $2.25 million contract with the Cubs in December, that's exactly what he's done.

"I couldn't be more thankful," Schierholtz said. "The team has given me every opportunity from Day 1 of spring training to come in and win a job -- and just relax. And that's been big for me."

The numbers tell the story. Schierholtz already has 11 home runs with the Cubs, eclipsing the 10-blast plateau for the first time in his seven-year career, and doing so before the All-Star break. His .861 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging) ranks fourth among major league right fielders.

"When I got traded," Schierholtz recalled, "it was a shock at first, but I've gotten used to it and I think it's worked out for the best."

It's clearly working out for Schierholtz, and the trade sent Hunter Pence to San Francisco, where he helped win the 2012 World Series and is currently leading the team in hits and home runs.

Schierholtz, who said it was strange arriving at SFO and taking a bus to a hotel instead of AT&T Park, cherishes every opportunity to return the the Bay Area. He took advantage of the Cubs' off-day on Monday and spent his Fourth of July break like any good American -- with a family BBQ. He braved the 100-degree heat to visit the Schierholtz family house in Alamo, and his family was present for Game 1 on Tuesday.

"It was a treat to get to come back here for the Fourth," Schierholtz said. "The Bay is always going to be home to me, lots of family and friends here."

The San Ramon Valley High School standout will always look back on his days with the Giants fondly, and the fan base has a lot to do with it.

"I appreciate all the support over the years," Schierholtz said. "The fans have been great to me. Even when I come back here, I hear positive things.

"I think they're some of the best fans in the game."