Rejoice! Giants pitchers and catchers report

Spring training has begun, as pitchers and catchers for the WORLD CHAMPION SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS reported to Scottsdale, Ariz., on Monday.

Here are the highlights from Monday’s reports from Arizona:

SAY WHAT?!? The Giants have yet to hold their first spring workout, and manager Bruce Bochy is already working on the psychology.

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Bochy proclaimed that the Philadelphia Phillies are the team to beat in the National League because they have the best starting rotation in the league.

“You look at the track record, and you have to say the Phillie have the best staff in the league,” Bochy said. “The road to the World Series will have to go through Philadelphia.”

With the Phillies adding Cliff Lee to a rotation that already had Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, the statement is logical. The road to the NL pennant has gone through Philly the past three seasons. So why would adding Cliff Lee to the mix alter that.

Still, it’s not what most Giants fans want to hear on the FIRST DAY of spring training.

It’s kind of like going to a party and announcing to the room that Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker is the hottest woman in America … while your wife is standing next to you sporting a new outfit and haircut.

The validity of the remark won’t necessarily keep you from sleeping on the sofa.

Many Giants fans are still living the dream of the 2010 season and might not be ready to wake up to the reality of the 2011 season. But as manager, Bochy needs to go work on 2011 and he clearly wants to keep his players to put themselves in the underdog frame of mind that worked so well for them last season.

BULLPEN BATTLE: The competition for the final spot in the bullpen took an interesting turn over the weekend.

The reported minor-league deal the Giants worked out with veteran pitcher Elmer Dessens fell through. Instead, the Giants signed a minor-league deal with Brian Lawrence, who won 50 games for the Padres before shoulder problems derailed his career. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2007, but put up solid numbers for the Marlins’ Triple-A team last season and could open the season in Fresno, adding some organizational depth.

Dan Runzler, who the Giants had thought about converting into a starter, will be groomed for long relief this season. Or at least, that’s the plan for now. “That’s doesn’t mean we’re locked into that,” Bochy said.

What it does mean is that Runzler, Jeff Suppan and Guillermo Mota will be competing for the long relief spot in the bullpen this spring. MoreSplashHits still has doubts about Suppan. Under his deal, if Suppan breaks camp with the big club, he’ll earned $1 million in 2011. It just doesn’t make sense to pay a long reliever $1 milllion.

MORE HINSHAW: LH Alex Hinshaw reported to camp 20 pounds heavier in an effort to maintain his strength through the season. Hinshaw sported a 3.40 ERA in 48 appearances with the Giants in 2008, but only made nine appearances in 2009 and none in 2010.

The last we heard of Hinshaw came in a report that the Giants were looking to sell his contract to a Japanese team.

MoreSplashHits’ first reaction to the news of Hinshaw’s offseason was “Good for Alex.” But then we thought about the idea of a 28-year-old journeyman reliever who hasn’t pitched in the majors in two years adding 20 pounds in the offseason, and it made us cringe.

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