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The Pioneer

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San Francisco Giants Set To Open Season Against Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers' Ivan DeJesus turns a double play as the San Francisco Giants' Travis Ishikawa slides into second base during a spring training game at Scottsdale Stadium in Scottsdale, Arizona, Feb. 26. The Giants will play the Dodgers again for its first game of the 2011 season.

Not even the baseball gods could have written a better script than that of the San Francisco Giants overcoming the odds and going on to be 2010 World Series Champions.

The reigning world champs are ready to do it again, as they open up their long-anticipated season against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday night in Los Angeles.

It’s been five months that the Giants have been polishing their World Series trophy and rings.

The team is even being featured in a Showtime and MLB Productions’ upcoming documentary, “The Franchise: A Season With the San Francisco Giants,” which will show everything from behind the scenes issues in the lives of several players to Pablo Sandoval’s staggering weight-loss to get him ready for the 2011 season. Showtime is set to air a preview on April 13 with the full production set to come out in the summer.

But now it’s time to put the trophy, and the rings, in repository and defend their title as Major League baseball champions.

This young “Cinderella” team entered last season not expecting to even be playoff contenders in the National League West division. But after an unstoppable run at the end of the regular season, which displayed the young and upcoming talent, many are expecting this team to be right in the mix come this October.

This year, the Giants look to build on their success of last year, but they’ll have to do it without a couple of unsung heroes from a year ago.

Over the offseason, infielder Juan Uribe did the unthinkable by choosing to part ways with the Giants to the tune of a three-year, $21 million deal with the teams most-hated rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

It will be interesting to see if the Dodger faithful will replicate the famous “Ooo-Ree-Bey” chant made ever-so-popular in the 2010 World Series.

The Giants have also parted ways with the Word Series MVP Edgar Renteria. Renteria became the World Series hero after hitting game winning homeruns in games two and five of the series. After a regular season plagued with injuries in which he went on the disabled list three times, Renteria considered retiring at the conclusion of the 2010 season but then thought better of it. The Giants, however, had a different agenda and released the shortstop, who went on to sign with the Cincinnati Reds.

Replacing the veteran infielder is another veteran infielder, Miguel Tejada, who was acquired by the San Diego Padres over the offseason. Tejada signed a one-year, $6.5 million dollar deal to be the everyday shortstop.

With the exception of these offseason moves, the 2011 team will look similar to the 2010 Championship team. Lincecum, Sanchez and Cain will round out the starting three pitching rotation, with reigning National League rookie of the year Buster Posey behind the plate and Brian Wilson sealing the game in the ninth inning.

Wilson, however, will start the season on the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle on his left side. The all-star right-hander can return as early as April 5 because the team can backdate his DL assignment up to ten days.

With the rest of the team healthy, and with Wilson expecting to be back soon, the Giants have closed out spring training and are ready to open their 2011 campaign.

There is no doubt that this will be the most-watched team in baseball, and there are many anticipated questions to be answered as the season progresses.

Will Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner enter a “Sophomore Slump” after stellar rookie performances a year ago?

Will Tim Lincecum continue his dominance as the number-one pitcher in the starting rotation?

Who in the National League West will give the Giants a run for its money in contending for the Division playoff berth?

And probably the most anticipated question:
Will Brian Wilson keep the pitch-black “fear the beard” beard?

Tune in this season to find out.

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San Francisco Giants Set To Open Season Against Dodgers