COMMENTARY | If there's a fountain of youth, Marco Scutaro has found it.
A World Series champion, NLCS MVP, and inked to a new three-year, $20 million contract that will pay him through his 39th birthday, Scutaro is getting the better of Father Time.
But if age brings wisdom, he's also had enough life experience to savor the moment.
Drafted as a fresh-faced 18-year-old out of Venezuela, Scutaro's ascension was, initially, swift. He spent one season in rookie ball, another in Single-A, and by the time he was 21 had advanced to Triple-A.
And there he stayed, knocking on multiple teams' doors for the next seven years in what must have been a maddening stasis.
Scutaro, seemingly, did everything right: regularly exhibiting his ability to use the whole field and, with the exception of a year spent in Lower Single-A, batting better than .270 every season. Yet many believed the middle infielder wasn't especially gifted in any one area. Yes, he could field, but he was no Ryne Sandberg, and though there was no question he could get on base, he lacked the speed to bat leadoff.
So he waited, a career .297 minor-league hitter, frittering away his supposedly best years.
Finally in 2002, a 27-year-old Scutaro got his first taste of the big leagues. But, as had so often happened throughout his career, the middle infielder couldn't catch a break. He hit just .222 in 27 games with the New York Mets and was promptly returned to their Norfolk, Illinois, affiliate. A year later, another promising start hoisted Scutaro to the majors where, once again, he showed poorly and was sent back to purgatory.
Ironically, it was another Bay Area team that entrenched Scutaro in the big leagues. In four years with the Oakland Athletics, he logged 476 games, hit .262, and scored 199 runs.
Three clubs later and with nearly a full decade in the majors, Scutaro arrived in Colorado a proven commodity in 2012.
Still, no one expected the performance given upon being traded to the Giants last season. He'd hit .271 in 95 games with the Rockies, a respectable line to be sure, but one hardly suggestive of things to come.
Whether it was nostalgia over returning to Northern California or exuberance at being dealt to a playoff contender, the 185-pound Scutaro manufactured one herculean effort after another. He hit .362 in 61 games with his new club, struck out only 14 times, and feverishly stalked the NL's top batters to finish third in total hits and first in singles.
That, however, was a mere prelude to what happened next.
Facing elimination at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco's newest addition was also its biggest difference maker, hitting .500 and collecting 17 total bases in the series.
Through 35 games this year, Scutaro is again proving himself to be one of San Francisco's most integral players. Though slow out of the blocks, the second-year Giant is hitting .478 in May and has struck out only once. He's been equally prolific in the clutch, batting .455 with two outs and runners in scoring position on the year.
For its part, the Giants organization couldn't be happier. A friendly, pleasant individual off the field, and an absolute fan-favorite on it, Scutaro is cherished in San Francisco.
And that's really what he hoped for all along: a team anxious to keep him around.
John Foletta is a Yahoo! contributor who also covers Cal Athletics for Rivals.com. A Bay Area native, Foletta is a lifelong San Francisco Giants follower.
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