Spring training officially can begin now that manager Bruce Bochy has thrown out the ceremonial first barb at reliever Jeremy Affeldt. As Bochy was discussing the World Baseball Classic, he said, "We encouraged Affeldt to go. We need a two-week break from him."
When Affeldt and 16 teammates throw their first bullpen sessions of spring training Wednesday, the Giants formally begin work toward what they hope is a second consecutive World Series championship and third in four years, a feat that few outside of Scottsdale Stadium see happening.
Las Vegas oddsmakers favor the Tigers, Dodgers, Angels, Nationals, Blue Jays, Yankees and Reds more than the Giants for winning the 2013 World Series.
Some of that skepticism stems from the sheer difficulty of repeating, some from the belief that the Giants should have done more to fortify the roster while the division-rival Dodgers continued their Park Avenue shopping spree for talent.
Beyond that is a commonly held notion that the Giants won another World Series not because they were the best team in the majors, but merely the hottest at the end.
"Once again, we're being doubted," reliever Sergio Romo said. "Once again, we're not getting any credit. Yeah, we had a couple of balls bounce our way, but we were prepared for those situations."
To the extent a team with two titles in three years can be considered underdogs, the Giants are. Few believe the Giants will win even the West.
Brandon Belt had an answer for that at FanFest when a fan asked a panel of players what they thought of the Dodgers' big acquisitions.
"You can't buy team chemistry," Belt said, a quote that quickly fell into the hands of L.A. fans with Twitter accounts. Some of their responses were unprintable, and Belt learned the hard way that people on social media are not always nice.


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