SAN FRANCISCO — Dan Uggla was long gone by the time the Giants won the World Series last fall. He’d played four games for San Francisco in late July, going 0 for 11 with six strikeouts, and made two errors at second base.
That earned him a World Series ring.
“With him struggling like he did, it opened up the door for Joe Panik, and we probably wouldn’t have won the World Series without Joe Panik,” recently retired Giants pitcher Tim Hudson said. “So everybody who’s hating on Dan should probably be glad he didn’t do so well. If he had hit .240 or .250, he might have stuck around and there wouldn’t have been Joe Panik.”
Brayan Villarreal got a ring with the champion Red Sox in 2013. His contribution? He got into one game for Boston — in August, he relieved with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of a tie game at San Francisco, and walked Marco Scutaro on four pitches to force home the winning run.
Those were Villarreal’s last four pitches in the majors, in fact.
Jacob deGrom, Johnny Cueto and the rest of the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals are hoping to do a lot more in the next week to clinch a crown. As for who will get a World Series ring, that’s to be determined as the clubs have combined to use a total of nearly 100 players this season.
Bengie Molina and Arthur Rhodes have left little to chance in recent years. They played for both teams that made the Series in the same year.
Molina received a pair of sparkly rings for 2010, one for his time with the AL champion Texas Rangers and the other from the Series champion Giants. He began the year as the starting catcher in San Francisco before rookie Buster Posey’s promotion.
From the Texas dugout five years ago, Molina watched the visiting Giants team that had traded him just four months earlier win the title. Molina was briefly frozen: His instincts told him to rush out and celebrate with his good friends from the other side, but he knew he couldn’t do it.
“It was really, really tough in my heart. It was tough to play. It was tough to hit,” Molina recalled last week. “When they won, I was sitting down in the dugout watching them, and I didn’t know if I should jump around and enjoy the win. That’s how weird it was.”
Molina has both rings in a safe place at home in Gilbert, Arizona. He touched on his experiences that year in his new book, “Molina: The Story of the Father Who Raised an Unlikely Baseball Dynasty,” about his father raising three future major league catchers — Bengie, Yadier and Jose.
Rhodes began 2011 with Texas, was released on Aug. 8 and signed a few days later with St. Louis — which beat the Rangers in a seven-game World Series.
The Giants decided to give Uggla a World Series ring despite his brief, unproductive time. Manager Bruce Bochy rewards every player who spends even a day on a title team, and Uggla received his jewelry from general manager Bobby Evans behind the scenes before a game Aug. 14 at AT&T Park while he was on the disabled list for the Washington Nationals.
“It was a really cool thing for them to include everybody, even if it was a short few days there,” Uggla said. “It really goes a long way, especially with people like me, to get a ring like that. I’ll tell you what, I got goosebumps when I opened it up and looked at it. It’s pretty awesome.”
For Bochy, the toughest call isn’t whether to gift the ring. Instead, it’s which one to present — there is a fanciest version — to a bit player during a championship season.
“Maybe the type of ring, A versus B, they’re all very similar,” Bochy said. “We talk about it. A guy who was with the club at one time, that’s usually how it works in our game. I heard (Uggla) was very excited about it, which is good. Granted it was a short time, but he was here and part of our club. They’ve done something.”
Humor aside, Hudson figured Uggla deserves some credit.
“He was on the roster, he was on the team, he put on the uniform just like everybody else did,” Hudson said. “Will it be something he wears with pride? Probably not, just because he probably didn’t feel like he contributed to it, (but) to show your grandkids and your kids one day that he was on that team.”
A three-time All-Star, Uggla joined the Giants after being released by Atlanta. No matter that some fans wanted to ring him up for his struggling stay in the Bay Area. He wasn’t about to apologize for walking off with a World Series ring.
“I don’t really care,” he said with a smile. “It doesn’t bother me. It worked out the best. I needed to go home and regroup and do a bunch of stuff. They had some young studs coming up, like (Matt) Duffy and Panik. It was crunch time. They needed help right then, and I’m not sure I would have been able to do that for them. I’m glad to see it worked out for them, a lot of good people over there.”
“I guess you could say I got lucky,” he said.