© St. Petersburg Times, published October 13, 2002
SAN FRANCISCO -- He saw what life after baseball was like, and Andy Benes liked it.
But not so much the Cardinals pitcher didn't want to return after onfield struggles and a knee injury led him to the disabled list this season.
"I really thought I was done playing," Benes said. "Retirement was kind of out of the picture, because I didn't want to close the door for any future opportunity or potential opportunity. But I really didn't think I was going to be playing."
Benes, 35, came back in July and helped an ailing staff. He went 5-2 in his final 14 regular-season starts and starts Game 4 of the National League Championship Series today.
"I really have an appreciation for what I do and for the opportunity," said Benes, in the final season of a three-year, $18-million deal.
HAPPY TO BE HERE: He didn't get excited, didn't jump for joy. All Chad Zerbe did when the Giants added him to their playoff roster was make a few phone calls. The 30-year-old product of Gaither High and Hillsborough Community College has been a solid addition to the bullpen. The left-hander worked his way from Class A to the majors after signing with the Giants in 1997 and went 2-0 with a 3.04 ERA in 50 games this season. "The thing that kept me going most, besides my family, was knowing if I had the opportunity, I knew I could do it," Zerbe said. EMOTIONAL APPEARANCE: Giants fans haven't forgotten Dave Dravecky, the pitcher whose career ended in '89 after a comeback from soft-tissue cancer in his throwing arm. Dravecky, whose left arm was amputated in '91, threw out the first pitch and received a lengthy standing ovation. "Life is great. It couldn't be any better," he said. "The most wonderful thing about my life now is that I have a challenge to be the best husband and father that I can. ... It's a whole lot easier going out and throwing in front of 60,000 people in the seventh game of the World Series."