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Ex-Cub Ryan Theriot 2 wins away from 2nd title in 2 years

Ryan Theriot who had clutch hits National League Championship Series says he wanted finish his career with Cubs. | Mark

Ryan Theriot, who had clutch hits in the National League Championship Series, says he wanted to finish his career with the Cubs. | Mark Humphrey~AP

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Updated: November 28, 2012 6:13AM

SAN FRANCISCO — As the Giants took the field for batting practice Wednesday before Game 1 of the World Series at AT&T Park, former Cub Ryan Theriot and some teammates marveled at a media throng so big they had to sidestep cameras, lighting equipment and moving bodies just to get to the batting cage.

One of the Giants’ coaches looked around and said to Theriot: ‘‘Could you imagine if this game was playing at Wrigley Field right now?’’

Of course, he could imagine it. That’s all he did for two years as the starting shortstop for division winners in Chicago in 2007 and 2008 before team president Crane Kenney froze the payroll budget and sent the Cubs into a competitive decline that stands at four years and counting. But the only thing Theriot’s counting these days is World Series rings.

What might have been with the Cubs and an unwanted trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2010 after Starlin Castro took his job at short aren’t any easier to remember two years later.

‘‘I wanted to finish my career there,’’ Theriot said. ‘‘I wanted to win a championship in Chicago, and I was very upset about leaving. …But it’s funny how things work out.’’

As the World Series shifts to Detroit for Game 3 on Saturday, the onetime fan favorite at Wrigley Field is only two victories away from individually matching in 13 months the Cubs’ entire haul of World Series titles in 110 years of trying.

‘‘It’s a really special thing,’’ said Theriot, the Game 7 starting second baseman for Tony La Russa’s Cardinals when they beat the Rangers last year.

‘‘My years in Chicago were awesome and taught me so much about the game. I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to go to a couple of teams that are in this position. It could have easily worked out different ways.’’

This year alone has taken several sharp turns for Theriot, who beat out close friend and Louisiana neighbor Mike Fontenot for a roster spot in spring training (“that was tough; it stinks”) and then spent much of the season as the Giants’ starting second baseman.

Until the Giants traded for the Rockies’ Marco Scutaro in July to fill in for injured Pablo Sandoval at third. Two weeks later, Sandoval was back, and Theriot was on the bench as the hot-hitting Scutaro took over at second.

Theriot started only twice after Aug. 15.

‘‘This is the guy that’s got the most hits in the National League since the All-Star break and just played great defense,’’ said Theriot, who came off the bench twice in late innings against the Cardinals in NL Championship Series wins to deliver run-scoring hits. ‘‘You can’t say enough about what he’s done on the field. So that was an easy pill for me to swallow. That one was OK.’’

If anything, Theriot might have gained a championship perspective over these unlikely pair of rides into deep October, embracing what guys like Scutaro and newcomer Hunter Pence have done for a tight-knit San Francisco clubhouse — and embracing his role within that.

‘‘Obviously, I’d like to be in there every day,’’ he said, ‘‘but there’s give and take. And because of that give, shoot, I’m sitting here in a World Series again, two years in a row.’’

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