San Francisco • From postseason bystander to starting the World Series opener. That's how far Barry Zito has come in two years to resurrect his career.
The resurgent left-hander will pitch Game 1 for the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night against Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers.
Manager Bruce Bochy said Tuesday he will go with Zito, who has turned around his career this year. Bochy was eager and proud to give the pitcher the news once they finally connected, that is.
"I tried to call him all day. He left his phone at the ballpark, so I couldn't get ahold of him," Bochy said. "But he was ecstatic. He was proud, honored that we have the trust in him to start Game 1."
Zito's stellar outing in a 5-0 victory on Friday night in Game 5 of the NL championship series at Busch Stadium helped San Francisco rally from a 3-1 series deficit against the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals to return to the World Series for the second time in three years.
Left off the postseason roster for all three rounds when the Giants won it all in 2010, Zito made a conscious decision to find his way by just plain having fun again forgetting one bad start and moving on to the next. Whatever he has done to change his mental approach, it has certainly paid off on the mound.
"It's not important to reflect right now. There's work to do," Zito said. "I'm going to be on the mound here in the next 24 hours, so that's where my focus is at."
For Bochy, leaving Zito off the roster was among the toughest calls he has made as a manager. That made delivering the good news Tuesday so much sweeter.
It doesn't hurt that Zito now has four pitches to baffle batters aside from just that nasty curveball that has defined his career since back in the early days of the Big Three with Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder across the bay with the Oakland Athletics.
"He's been through a lot, obviously. He took the beatings," Giants general manager Brian Sabean said of Zito. "He's always been a stand-up guy he's never stopped working."