SAN FRANCISCO -- After his last game as a Giant, Barry Zito had a hard time remembering all the details.
Zito faced one batter in Sunday's 7-6 victory over San Diego, receiving thundering ovations before and after the appearance. Moments after the Giants walked off with a win, Zito was asked to grab the microphone and speak to the sellout crowd at AT&T Park.
"I was terrible nervous," he said. "I didn't want to screw it up."
Zito had nothing to worry about. No part of his exit was bungled.
Four days after earning a win in his final start for the organization, Zito was in standby mode as manager Bruce Bochy looked for the right opportunity to let Zito get a proper goodbye from Giants fans. Bochy pulled Zito for a pinch-hitter on Wednesday, but he cooked up a brilliant plan Sunday. Zito was on hold to face left-hander Mark Kotsay, a former A's teammate who was playing his final big league game.
"If that didn't work out, I would find a way," Bochy said. "I wanted to give him the great sendoff he deserves."
Zito twice went down to the bullpen, with the crowd rising both times. Heath Hembree came in to start the eighth and got the first two outs. With Kotsay strolling to the plate, Bochy called for a left-handed pitcher who was 63-80 with a 4.62 ERA for the Giants after signing a record-breaking seven-year, $126 million deal in 2006.
Zito hadn't lived up to expectations, but he handled the struggles with grace and humility, earning respect inside the clubhouse and out. AT&T Park shook Sunday as Zito took the mound, and after he started Kotsay with the cutter that has helped him stay in the league, Zito twice turned to his famous curveball. With two strikes, Kotsay swung through an 84 mph fastball.
"The 84, the sneaky fastball," Zito said, smiling. "It was weird coming in for a lefty for the first time in my 14 years. I haven't done that. But I was telling the boys when I got back to the dugout: You better watch out. I'm going to make a name for myself as a left-handed specialist."
Zito, 35, would instead like to find a job as a starter, but it won't be in San Francisco. As he left the AT&T Park mound for the final time as a Giant, he received a long, loud and emotional ovation.
"That was surreal," Zito said. "I had more adrenaline than during the World Series. Having that way of going out as a Giant? Wow."
Zito tipped his cap in all directions, but as he descended the dugout steps, he was pushed back out onto the field. Teammates stood and applauded as Zito soaked in the applause.
"That was one of the best moments of the season as far as I'm concerned," outfielder Hunter Pence said. "He's been through so much. The good times, the tough times. This was one of those special moments you take in and enjoy."
Zito went down a line of teammates, hugging each one. He took pictures with several players, many of them rookies who were in high school when Zito signed the infamous deal. When he got to Bochy, Zito was given a long hug from a man who twice pulled him from the rotation this season.
"I had a lot of emotion going through me," Bochy said. "I have some great memories."
Those memories -- most notably Game 5 of the NLCS and Game 1 of the World Series -- helped earn Zito a firm spot in Giants history. General manager Brian Sabean said Friday that he doesn't regret the Zito deal because it helped the Giants win a title last October. If the Giants win another one in the future, Zito won't be part of it, but that doesn't bother him.
"I know you guys are in for a whole lot of better times than we've had," Zito told fans when he took the mic after the game. "I'm looking forward to watching.