Giants road trips to San Diego in recent years have marked a return for manager Bruce Bochy to the city where he first managed a team to the World Series. This time it doubles as a homecoming for a Giants player who was a 9-year-old watching from the stands at Qualcomm Stadium as Bochy's Padres were swept in that series by the New York Yankees.
That's utility infielder Nick Noonan, who was born in Poway and graduated from Francis Parker High School in San Diego. Noonan said earlier this week that he "wasn't a diehard fan" of the Padres growing up, but he rooted for them as the hometown team.
"Me and my dad used to play wiffle ball and we'd go through the Padres lineup and bat like them, do their little antics," Noonan said. "Do the right-handers, go through (Tony) Gwynn's little bat wiggle. It was fun."
Noonan, a left-handed hitter, watched Gwynn and Steve Finley but said he was probably too young to have much of an opinion about the manager. Bochy managed 12 seasons in San Diego -- where he also spent much of his playing career -- and led the Padres to four division titles. In late March, it was Bochy who called Noonan into his office at AT&T Park to inform Noonan he had made the Giants' opening day roster for the first time.
"I think it's awesome," Noonan said of playing for Bochy. "Someone that we grew up going to games and watching the team that he was managing, and now getting to play for him -- I'm honored, really."
Noonan has seen most of his playing time this season as a pinch hitter or late defensive replacement. He's 7-for-19 with four runs and two RBIs, including a memorable 3-for-5 performance in his first career start in Chicago on April 11.
Though his mom grew up a Cubs fan, his parents weren't able to make the trip for that game. They did see his Noonan's first at-bat during the Giants' opening series in Los Angeles, and traveled north to San Francisco for the Giants' first home series against St. Louis. Noonan said he's expecting "probably 30, 40, 50" friends and family at Petco Park this weekend.
"I'll just be happy to be playing baseball there," said Noonan, who was the 32nd overall selection in the 2007 Draft and spent the last six seasons working his way up the Giants' minor-league system.
"I think it'll be awesome for all the people that have supported me for my career in San Diego -- coaches, family, friends, everyone that has kind of followed me. It'll be a fun experience to hopefully play in front of them."
-- Matt Kawahara