Brandon Belt

Giants' Buster Posey, Brandon Belt face inevitable coronavirus risk

Giants' Buster Posey, Brandon Belt face inevitable coronavirus risk

To help keep players, coaches and umpires safe, MLB has eliminated the pre-game exchange of lineup cards and instituted new rules regarding how close players can get on the field. The operations manual asks that players stand at least six feet apart during the anthem every night and discourages pre-game fraternization with members of the opposing team. 

The manual includes two full pages of bulleted on-field protocols, including one that says "Players, umpires, and other on-field personnel should practice physical distancing to the extent possible within the limitations of competition and the fundamentals of baseball."

When people around the game started examining the new rules, though, one thing became crystal clear. There are parts of every game that you can't regulate, particularly at the plate and first base. 

You can ask players to do all they can to socially distance, but there's no getting around the fact that every night at least 18 of them will dig into the box, many at the back of it because of hitting preferences, with two catchers in the crouch, breathing heavily as they go through a game. Behind the catchers there still will be an umpire, and they tend to lean on shoulders and get as close as possible to get a better view of the pitch.

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"I've definitely thought about that," catcher Buster Posey said. "I don't know if umpires will have to wear masks or not. I think that would be one thing that would help, but obviously you can't expect the batter to come up and wear a mask or a catcher to wear a mask (under his catcher's mask) during a game."

The current version of the new rulebook does not ask that umpires wear masks as they stand behind the catcher, although it does encourage distancing when possible and demands that they complete COVID-19 education before the season and during.

Posey will be at the greatest risk of exposure on a nightly basis, with Brandon Belt also sticking out from most regular fielders, and not just because the first baseman is the endpoint of so many plays (last year Belt caught more than 1,000 outs at first). When opposing runners reach first, Belt will have to hold them close, often swiping down on throws over to first. 

"Obviously we're going to be pretty close over there," he said. "I'll try not to get in anybody's face anyway. I think I can do the same thing I've always done. Obviously we're going to be close but I'll do my best to stay as far away from them as possible while still being able to play my position. There's probably going to be a little less talking over there for me, which I probably shouldn't be doing anyway. Avoiding face-to-face talking will help go a long way."

While Posey expressed serious reservations about playing this season, Belt, in his first interview since March, said he's optimistic about the season. 

Belt has spent the hiatus back home in Nacogdoches, Texas, but he said his county wasn't a hot spot in recent weeks like the rest of the state, which was slow to react to COVID-19. Belt said he has spoken to doctors "quite a bit" about the risks and will continue to take precautions. 

The Giants are doing the right things during training sessions and continue to mold their plans for the season. But when the games start and wins and losses are on the line, there's only so much that can be done to parts of the game that have been around for a century. The first few actual games later this month will give them a better idea of how to handle nine innings. 

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"The landscape is going to continually change and we're going to have to adjust and modify how we do things," Posey said. "That's just the reality of the world we're living in right now."

Giants have 'golden opportunity' in 2020 season, Mike Krukow believes

Giants have 'golden opportunity' in 2020 season, Mike Krukow believes

The Giants aren't expected to contend for an MLB playoff spot this season, but don't tell that to Mike Krukow.

The Giants broadcaster believes the team has a chance to surprise people due to the shortened season.

"It's a golden opportunity," Krukow said during a conversation this week with NBC Sports Bay Area's Kelli Johnson and broadcast partner Duane Kuiper. "If you look at the Giants, they're one of the older teams in baseball. What older teams have learned, especially ones that have been champions, they learn the importance of chemistry, they learn the importance of a good attitude, and I think that is going to be paramount when they gather up."

While the Giants are focused on building for the future, they still have several integral players from their three World Series title teams from the last decade. Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt and Pablo Sandoval remain. They are flanked by veterans Evan Longoria, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. And Hunter Pence is back for a second tour of duty in San Francisco.

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But those veterans and the rest of the Giants have to get used to a whole new world. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, players have to adjust their routines.

"There are going to be so many things that are going to be unorthodox, that they're not used to, that are complete breaks of the routine of a normal day that you have in a normal season of Major League Baseball," Krukow said. "It's really going to be important for them to overcome them with a good attitude. Whoever finds chemistry first is going to have the advantage."

Spring training isn't the best indicator of what a team will be for the upcoming season, but the Giants had a 13-16 record before the coronavirus put a stop to activities. Despite that record, Krukow and Kuiper liked what they saw from the club in March.

[RELATED: Giants would support Posey opting out]

"We thought the Giants had a great spring training," Krukow said. "We thought there really was a nice foundation that was being laid of a positive vibe, and I think because of their experience, I think they have an opportunity here. If they get off with a good vibe, if they get off to a good start, it's a sprint. They could be in the playoffs. And once they get into the playoffs, who knows what can happen.

"So I'm excited about it. I think the players are excited about it. And it's a golden opportunity."

The Giants reportedly are expected to open the 60-game season July 23 in Los Angeles against the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are favorites to win the World Series. It's not the easiest way for the Giants to start the season, but if they can take a couple games from their arch rivals, that could set the tone for a surprising season.

Giants' Brandon Belt puts Lufkin, Texas house on market for $875K

Giants' Brandon Belt puts Lufkin, Texas house on market for $875K

Brandon Belt appears to be on the move, but it has nothing to do with leaving the Giants.

The veteran first baseman has put his 3,722-square-foot Lufkin, Texas home on the market.

The house, which sits on 20 acres, has incredible curb appeal, and boasts four bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms, according to Realtor.com.

Belt has listed the spacious house for just $875,000. After looking at the photos, try to imagine how much this property would go for if it was listed in the Bay Area.

VIEW PICTURES OF BELT'S TEXAS HOUSE