SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Marco Scutaro is no castoff or misfit. Not even close.
It just so happens he is having a major impact as part of San Francisco's run into the playoffs — the 2012 version of Cody Ross, if you will. Scutaro does it all: reliable defense, timely hitting, mentoring of younger teammates.
The Giants plucked Ross off waivers in August two years ago and watched him capture MVP honors in the NL championship series and help lead them to that long-awaited first World Series title since moving West in 1958. He was one of those "castoffs and misfits" as manager Bruce Bochy referred to them.
The well-traveled Scutaro is another late addition by general manager Brian Sabean to pay huge dividends down the stretch for the NL West champions. The 36-year-old infielder is headed back to the postseason for the first time since his 2006 Oakland Athletics team got swept by the Tigers in the AL championship series.
"It's been fun. It's been great," Scutaro said. "It's been a good situation. It's always fun to win. Just to have the opportunity to be in the playoffs, that's a lot. Just not for me, for any player. We all prepare hard, we work hard in the offseason to have the opportunity to be in this situation, to be in the playoffs. It's priceless to get this opportunity."
There's no question Scutaro is among the best mid-season pickups of the summer.
"He's definitely up there. If he's not the best, he's amongst the top two," first baseman Brandon Belt said. "It seems like he doesn't ever get out. He's even better when he has two strikes on him, which is awesome."
Not only does Scutaro have an uncanny knack for clutch hits, the utility infielder filled an enormous need at second base and in the No. 2 hole. He delivered with three hits and three RBIs in an 8-4 victory over the San Diego Padres on Saturday night as the Giants clinched their second division crown in three years.
"You know what his nickname is? They call him 'Blockbuster,'" Giants CEO Larry Baer said. "He's been amazing."
Blockbuster is a bit of a not-so-inside joke, a reference to the relative bargain Scutaro represents for as much as he has contributed in a mere two months to put the Giants back in prime position for another special "Orange October," as they have taken to calling the playoffs.
"He's been unbelievable," shortstop Brandon Crawford said. "Everything he swings at, it seems like it's a base hit. He's a professional hitter. He takes pitches that he doesn't like and swings at good pitches, and doesn't swing through anything. He's fun to watch."
Scutaro has hits in 44 of his 53 games since the Giants acquired him from the Colorado Rockies on July 27. He is batting .304 overall with a career-high 68 RBIs — .361 with 38 RBIs and a team-best 78 hits since joining San Francisco.
The Giants took on just $2.1 million of Scutaro's salary, and he has more than made it worthwhile. Especially when compared to the Los Angeles Dodgers' spending spree to move much of the Red Sox roster across the country.
"I'll tell you an interesting story. When I called Colorado and finalized the deal and talked to (GM) Dan O'Dowd, he raved about this guy," Sabean said. "We did a lot of work on him but as far as the offensive output, we're probably all surprised at the relative consistency. This guy's known around the league. If you watch his at-bats, they're incredibly professional. He's got a nose for an RBI. Colorado knew what they were losing and I actually thanked Dan for allowing us to make the trade within the division — very fortunate to happen."