SAN FRANCISCO -- Michael Morse spoke so warmly of the Giants that his presence on the Miami Marlins roster seemed like a formality.
Morse was an integral part of the Giants' World Series-winning squad in 2014, his lone year with the club, and he enthusiastically mingled with his former teammates during batting practice. Early-arriving fans applauded Morse when he jumped in the cage to take his practice swings.
The Giants reciprocated Morse's affection by presenting him his World Series ring in a pregame ceremony. He deeply appreciated the gesture, calling it "unbelievable."
Added Morse, "To me, it shows how first-class they are."
Following a video tribute that opened the festivities, club president Larry Baer and manager Bruce Bochy led the team to the home-plate area to greet Morse. Right fielder Hunter Pence, Morse's best buddy among the Giants, stepped forward to share a handshake and a "bro-hug." Inevitably, the public-address system blared a-ha's "Take on Me," Morse's walkup music for his third at-bat of each game. Pretty soon, Morse could bear the suspense no longer and tore open the baby blue Tiffany & Co. box, slipped the ring on his right ring finger and brandished it for the crowd that stood throughout the ceremony in appreciation.
Morse overcame an oblique injury to provide memorable postseason moments. His eighth-inning homer tied the score in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series and set up Travis Ishikawa's now-legendary homer one inning later. Morse also drove in the eventual winning run in Game 7 of the World Series at Kansas City.
As a result, many fans wonder why Morse is no longer a Giant. The parting was essentially mutual. San Francisco wanted a more athletic performer in left field, Morse's primary position. Moreover, he not only received a chance to play close to home but also coaxed a two-year, $16 million deal from Miami.
"We left on really, really, really good terms," Morse said, referring to Giants management.
That sentiment will make it easier for Morse to wear his World Series ring.
"It's going to be tough to take off this thing," said Morse, who hit .279 in 131 games last year with 16 homers, 61 RBIs and an .811 OPS. "To me, it's a symbol of what we went through last year -- ups and downs, so many trials and things that brought us together as a team. That little piece of jewelry represents a lot to me."