"It's like going to a store and seeing the decorations right before holiday season," said Brandon Evans, a Giants clubhouse assistant who helped set the scene that he admired.
Pitchers and catchers officially report to camp and will undergo physical examinations Friday, though dozens of them -- as well as a handful of position players -- already have begun informal workouts at the stadium. Batterymates will open workouts Saturday. Position players are due to report Tuesday, one day before the first full-squad workout.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy couldn't wait for the activity to start. Though Bochy has been at his job longer than any other big league skipper, spring never gets old for him.
"If you don't come to Spring Training excited, pumped, thrilled to get it going again, there's probably something wrong with you," said Bochy, who's beginning his 20th consecutive year as a Major League manager. "This is our time of year. It's baseball."
It's also serious business for the Giants, World Series champions in 2010 and '12 who slumped to a 76-86 finish and a third-place tie with San Diego in the National League West. Bent on returning the Giants to the league's elite, Bochy intends to make workouts more time-effective. So he and his staff will conduct some rounds of batting practice at the Giants' Minor League complex, located a few blocks from Scottsdale Stadium. This should guarantee more activity in less time than before, particularly for the 37 pitchers in camp.
Bochy said that every player is expected to report on time, despite the storms that have disrupted travel in the eastern U.S.
Spring Training's recurring theme of fresh beginnings may seem more real than ever to hitting coach Hensley Meulens, who officially became a U.S. citizen on Wednesday in Oakland. Meulens, who is Dutch, was among 844 people representing 94 countries who participated in the naturalizing ceremony.
"I've been here 28 years. ... I spend most of the year here anyway," said the 46-year-old Meulens, who appeared in 182 big league games between 1989-98.
Meulens said that the 90-minute event began with a videotaped message from Czech-born Madeleine Albright, the former U.S. Secretary of State. He joined the others in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing "The Star-Spangled Banner," which he has heard a few times during his baseball career. The procedure ended with another video, this one from President Barack Obama welcoming the new citizens to the U.S.
Said Meulens, "It's pretty cool."