10/08/2002 8:56 pm ET
Giants boast playoff experience
By Paul C. Smith / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- After hearing all Tuesday afternoon about the Cardinals' impressive history and how special the game is at historic Busch Stadium, these San Francisco Giants are eager to become part
of one of baseball's enduring success stories.
They realize of course, that experience, and what they learn from it, can lead to a quick fit for a championship ring.
Twenty members of the Giants have previous playoff experience and nine of them have gotten as far as the LCS. Five of those have played in a World Series.
"It's good to have been there before, it just makes you want to succeed that much more," said third baseman David Bell, who played in the ALDS and ALCS with the Mariners in 2000 and 2001. "Experience becomes more important the further you go in the playoffs. It can only help."
Shortstop Rich Aurilia, who was with the Giants when they reached the NLDS in 1997 and 2000, but lost both times, said experience can help the most by keeping a player calm during duress.
"In the playoffs in 2000, we were expected to go further than we did," Aurilia said. "But, after we lost Game 2, we started pressing a little bit. I think we all learned from what happened in 2000.
"You have to treat it like it's just another series. Granted, it's a new experience at this level for a lot of us, but we need to treat it like any other series."
Starter Kirk Rueter, who also was with the Giants in 1997 and 2000, said he tries not to approach the playoffs any differently.
"I try to treat every game as a regular game, whether it's Spring Training or the middle of the regular season or the playoffs," Rueter said. "That's the way I've had the best success."
It's hard to argue with Rueter's thinking when his average record in six seasons with the Giants is 13-9.
Fellow starter Jason Schmidt missed out on the playoffs when he was with the Braves in the mid-90s. He said he could have drawn on some of that experience in his initial appearance in the postseason last Saturday in Game 3.
"It was my first playoff game, and I think any time you look back there are a lot of should haves, would haves, and could haves, and I was thinking about that all the time," Schmidt said. "You have a quality game going into the sixth inning and end up walking the bases loaded. Obviously, you don't want that to happen again."
Utilityman Shawon Dunston has played in the NLDS with two teams and the NLCS with three, including the Cardinals. He said he enjoyed his experience in 1999 and 2000 in St. Louis and got a warm reception from his ex-teammates.
"I have nothing but fond memories of my time here, I don't hold any grudges (about not being with St. Louis anymore)," Dunston said. "We had some good teams, went to the playoffs. I was glad I was a part of it."
Closer Robb Nen is one of the five Giants with World Series experience, along with Livan Hernandez, Kenny Lofton, Reggie Sanders and Jay Witasik. Nen said it's a tough balancing act because you do have to approach the games the same, while remembering that each contest is crucial.
"There is a different mindset and a different focus, it's a whole different ballgame," Nen said. "It's never any easier anytime you get to this point. It's tough. All the teams are good. And experience might help you know what to expect, but you still have to go out and get the job done against a very good team."
Paul C. Smith is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at
email@example.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.