Giants

Buster Posey opting out has Hunter Pence, Giants teammates' support

Buster Posey opting out has Hunter Pence, Giants teammates' support

Buster Posey told his teammates a week ago that he might have to opt out of the 2020 season. The Giants catcher made it official Friday, and one of his longtime teammates praised the decision and said all Posey’s teammates want to do is provide support.

“We’ll let him know we respect and honor it,” outfielder Hunter Pence said. “We understand and we’re here for him. That’s what our job is as teammates. We totally respect and understand the situation that he’s in.”

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Pence and Posey were teammates from 2012 through 2018 and won two titles together. They were set to reunite this year, possibly in the heart of the order, trs year, but Posey announced that his family has adopted two twin girls who were born prematurely last Friday. To protect their health, Posey will not play this season.

“These are two lives that are high risk and that’s just a tough weight to put on your soul to be coming to play baseball and risking their lives,” Pence said. "It’s a tough weight on everybody’s souls. These are tough times and we have to make tough decisions.”

[RELATED: Posey's decision might make Giants revisit plans for Bart]

Pence’s right-handed bat now will be even more crucial for the Giants, but he has been hampered by right foot pain in recent days. The 37-year-old said he had an MRI on Friday morning but deemed it precautionary.

“It’s very mild,” Pence said of the pain.

Astros getting 'free pass' with no fans in 2020, Mike Krukow believes

Astros getting 'free pass' with no fans in 2020, Mike Krukow believes

It was supposed to be a season of boos for the Houston Astros. After being implicated in a sign-stealing scandal this past offseason that saw Houston's manager and general manager be dismissed and suspended from MLB for the entire 2020 season, the Astros became public enemy No. 1 among the other 29 fanbases around the league.

But the coronavirus pandemic forced MLB to play the 2020 season without fans allowed in the ballpark, eliminating the potential for trash can bangs and vocal criticism throughout Houston's games. Prior to the start of the Giants' three-game series against the Astros at Minute Maid Park, broadcasters Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper discussed how Houston is benefiting from the lack of MLB spectators.

"I think the Astros get a free pass this year because there's no fans in the stands," Krukow said on Monday's telecast. "I think that's where the abuse would have come from, they'd had signs that would have been creative, entertaining, mean-spirited, but they deserve it, they got caught."

[RELATED: Laureano-Astros brawl reminder for Giants to be responsible]

On the day before the Astros opened up the series against San Francisco, Houston was involved in a bench-clearing brawl with the A's after Oakland outfielder Ramon Laureano and Astros coach Alex Cintrón exchanged words. Laureano had been hit by a pitch three times in the series, and said the Houston coach mentioned his mother during the argument, causing Laureano to charge toward the Astros dugout.

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly already received an eight-game suspension after throwing at and taunting multiple Astros hitters, and Laureano likely will be facing discipline as well.

While the Astros won't face any angry fans during the 2020 season, they shouldn't be surprised to see opposing players who were impacted by the sign-stealing expressing their frustrations.

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Giants reminded by Ramón Laureano-Astros brawl to be responsible, safe

Giants reminded by Ramón Laureano-Astros brawl to be responsible, safe

MLB teams have spent the last couple of weeks reinforcing their health and safety protocols, and as the Giants embarked on this three-city trip, they made some changes, including to the types of masks that some members of the traveling party were wearing on flights. 

Every move is made with safety in mind, but on the field, it can still be hard to remember the backdrop of this season. That was the case Sunday, when A's outfielder Ramón Laureano charged the Astros dugout after hitting coach Alex Cintron reportedly made a vile comment about his mother. The ensuing fracas was a nightmare image for the league in an age of social distancing. Laureano is expected to get suspended, and Cintron could face a lengthy suspension for taunting a player into the incident.

A day later, as Gabe Kapler prepared for his turn with the Astros, the manager said the brawl was used by the Giants as a kickstart for another discussion about being responsible. He spoke to his large coaching staff Monday.

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"I think it's a reminder to be especially aware and sensitive that right now everybody has their stress levels at their highest, because not only are we combining the stress of a major league baseball season and a modified shortened sprint as it is, but we're also doing it under conditions that we've never seen before," Kapler said. "Just the awareness that we're probably already a little bit emotionally charged will help us stay cool under conditions that would normally force us to move out onto the field. 

"I think most of this is about just a heightened level of sensitivity and awareness that we're already pretty stressed out, and leading with a little bit of empathy and understanding, I think that'll put us in a good spot."

The Giants have already played seven games against the Dodgers without incident and shouldn't have any issues with the Astros. Aside from president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, the former Dodgers GM, they don't have anyone who could have a real beef with the sign-stealing scandal that was the biggest story of this past offseason. 

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Some players have said it's extremely easy to hear conversations and expletives in these games being played without fans. The Astros have already had benches-clearing incidents with the Dodgers and A's, but Kapler said he hadn't heard anything thus far that stood out too much. 

"I've seen less jawing with the other team than I would normally see," he said. "There's kind of the same level of interaction with umpires that we've seen in the past. I think one thing that we've been considering is what's the best strategy there, since it's so easy to hear what we're saying to the umpire and to each other in the dugout. Sometimes it has to do with just kind of dialing our voices down a little bit."