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Everything from oatmeal to numbers involved in Giants, Reds series

By Scott Miller | Senior Baseball Columnist

SAN FRANCISCO -- Dusty Baker is back home in San Francisco with those he calls "my people."

Bruce Bochy's Giants are back in October, in position to possibly win a second World Series title in three seasons.

We're about to have some fun now.

"They had a great time in 2010, and that's the way I want them to go into this series," Bochy said as the Giants worked out Friday afternoon. "Sure, it's going to be serious. But have fun once you're here."

Bochy has not named his rotation beyond Games 1 (Matt Cain) and 2 (Madison Bumgarner). The hunch here is that Ryan Vogelsong will go Game 3 in Cincinnati, but there's plenty of conjecture that it might be Tim Lincecum. Baker's quartet is set: Cy Young candidate Johnny Cueto, Bronson Arroyo, Mat Latos and Homer Bailey.

Easily the best news during Friday's slow-news day workout was that the bounce is back in Baker's step following his stay in a Chicago hospital a couple of weeks ago for an irregular heartbeat and a mini-stroke.

"I'm feeling great," Baker said. "But I have to watch my energy level and make sure I'm right for the game, and for the whole game."

His wife, Melissa, is limiting his telephone time and his daughter, Tosha, has him eating oatmeal and couscous. His family is rallying around him and right now is traveling with him.

Baker's San Francisco ties, of course, run deep. You might recall that he managed the Giants for years, and he acknowledged Friday that the 2002 World Series loss to the Giants still stings.

When the Giants finally won their first World Series since moving to San Francisco in 1957, it was under Bochy, who has only burnished his managerial resume with another fine season in 2012. With closer Brian Wilson on the shelf, he has successfully deployed a bullpen-by-committee to close games. Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt all have gotten significant outs in key moments.

Bochy has had a knack for playing the right people at the right time, and he will try to extend that in Game 1 Saturday by sticking with Gregor Blanco in left field even though Xavier Nady has impressive career numbers against Cueto. Over a small sample size, Nady is hitting .625 with a 1.000 slugging percentage (5 for 8, 1 homer, 3 RBIs) against the Reds' righthander. Blanco is hitting .200 (1 for 5).

"You do look at numbers, and that can play a part," Bochy said. "But Blanco is going to be in left field. We'll have Nady on the bench. That's a tough call, it really is."

In 74 games this season as the Giants' leadoff hitter, Blanco batted .241 with a .340 on-base percentage. Against Cueto (19-9, 2.78 ERA), it is imperative that Blanco get on base and help set the table for Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence, Brandon Belt and crew.

Cueto thinks the Reds, who were swept out of the playoffs by the Phillies in the first round in 2010, are much more prepared this fall than two years ago.

"I see a team more relaxed," Cueto said through an interpreter. "It seemed like the first time, not knowing the situation, I don't like to use the word but it was, like, a scary situation.

"This time, we're relaxed."

 
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