Giants

Dodgers relish Giants ace Madison Bumgarner's at-bat off Clayton Kershaw

Dodgers relish Giants ace Madison Bumgarner's at-bat off Clayton Kershaw

The day belonged to Bruce Bochy. The Giants manager's 162-game farewell tour finally came to an end Sunday, but in the middle of it all, another Giants goodbye might have taken place in a 9-0 loss to the Dodgers.

Madison Bumgarner walked up the steps of the Giants dugout at Oracle Park on Sunday for the perhaps one last time. Fittingly, the longtime staff ace was here to prove once again that pitchers can rake. 

With two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, Bumgarner put on his one batting glove and strapped both an elbow and leg guard on. He was here to face Clayton Kershaw, a rival who has become a friend over the years while the two have become the top left-handed pitchers in the NL West. 

“I actually made a joke about it before the game," Kershaw said. "I was like, ‘He’s probably gonna pinch-hit against me,’ and yeah, it happened.” 

Bumgarner pinch-hit for shortstop Brandon Crawford. Kershaw threw him seven straight fastballs until the Giants star pitcher lined out on a 3-2 count to third baseman Jedd Gyorko.

As he walked off the mound, Kershaw pointed to Bumgarner and tipped his cap to Bochy. 

Plenty of credit should go to Dodgers rookie catcher Will Smith. From the moment Smith saw Bumgarner walk towards the plate, he made sure to go to the mound and give Giants fans as much time as they wanted to give MadBum a standing ovation. 

Giants fans stood on their feet, relishing every moment of MadBum tipping his cap with Smith and Kershaw standing on the mound. 

“Clayton called me out to make sure he got a little time for a standing ovation," Smith said. "That’s the kind of respect they have for each other. It’s pretty cool to be a part of it.” 

Even though this was the first time the 24-year-old Smith found himself in the middle of a Bumgarner-Kershaw battle, he certainly knew what it means to the rivalry and all of baseball.

“There’s a lot of history between those two," Smith said. "Two dominant lefties in the game. It’s just cool to see them face off.”

And while the day belonged to the man who's hanging up his spikes as the Giants' manager, the man leading his team in the opposing dugout played a big role. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts played two seasons under Bochy as a Giant in 2007 and '08. Roberts managed against Bochy the last four seasons, but more than anything, two great baseball minds became friends after many years on the field. 

Roberts says he didn't know Bumgarner would find his way into the game, though the Dodgers skipper admits he's happy Bochy told his ace to grab a bat.

"I think the timing was perfect to get Bum an at-bat," Roberts said. "Moments in sports … that was a good moment.”

[RELATED: Bonds throws Roberts' Dodgers hat during Bochy ceremony]

Giants fans honored Bochy all day, and deservedly so. After 10 years together, though, Bumgarner might have had his final moment in a Giants jersey the same day Bochy did. 

Maybe that's how it should be, too. 

Why Gabe Kapler is so excited to finally manage Giants against Dodgers

Why Gabe Kapler is so excited to finally manage Giants against Dodgers

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants, appropriately, will kick off the Gabe Kapler Era against the Dodgers.

That's where Kapler became a candidate to one day lead a club while serving as a director of player development for four years, where he learned a lot of the methods that he's now putting to use with the rival. Kapler spent plenty of time with the current and next generation of Dodgers stars, and on Thursday he noted it'll be cool to see young righty Tony Gonsolin start against Dereck Rodriguez. He said he watched a lot of Saturday's opponents, including Gonsolin, closely while working for "that other club."

Yes, Kapler is getting into the rivalry already. He wouldn't say "Dodgers" out loud while discussing Saturday's spring opener. 

"I'm just interested in the San Francisco Giants," he said, smiling, when pushed by reporters. "I've got black and orange on and I'm pretty proud of that."

Saturday is a day that Kapler has mostly avoided talking about. When asked about the start of games, he has pointed out repeatedly that the Giants have way too much work to do on back fields and in the bullpens to think too much about the Cactus League season. But it's here now, and Kapler admitted that this will be a meaningful day for him. 

For the first time since 2006, somebody other than Bruce Bochy will be on that top step. That has been an adjustment for the fan base, and many have voiced their displeasure, but the ticket Saturday is still a hot one. Mix a Cactus League opener on a Saturday with the fact that it's Giants-Dodgers and you have the most expensive ticket in spring training. According to TickPick, the average ticket for Saturday's game is $96, more than $25 more than the next hottest spring ticket (a Yankees-Blue Jays game) in 2020. 

[RELATED: Bruce Bochy visits Giants camp]

If the weather cooperates -- it's supposed to rain all day -- Kapler will give the crowd a nice preview of the season. Brandon Crawford has been pushed back a few days because he had flu-like symptoms this week, but the rest of Saturday's projected lineup is full of potential 2020 regulars:

Duggar CF
Longoria 3B
Belt 1B
Posey C
Davis RF
Slater LF
Dubon SS
Solano 2B
Ruf DH
Rodriguez SP

Bruce Bochy visits Giants camp, plans to spend time with Gabe Kapler

Bruce Bochy visits Giants camp, plans to spend time with Gabe Kapler

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Pablo Sandoval grabbed a glove from his bag, looked up and saw a familiar figure 20 yards to his left. 

"Bochy!" Sandoval yelled, waving. 

Bruce Bochy, the Giants' longtime manager and current special advisor, stayed away early in camp, trying to show respect for the new manager, Gabe Kapler. But with Team France about to start working out in Tucson, Bochy, its manager, drove to Arizona and visited his former players. He said he plans to be around off and on in the coming weeks, and several players made plans to spend more time with Bochy while he's in the area. 

Kapler did, too. He ran over to shake Bochy's hand after live batting practice and the two talked about getting together. Kapler called Bochy a "legend" and said he hoped he would speak with the full team at some point. 

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"That's something I want to talk to Boch about and gauge his comfort level, but I'm really happy he's here," Kapler said. "It brings a lot of energy to the fields and it's nice to look in there and see Boch there."

Kapler and Bochy met during the search for the new manager and they had some conversations after the decision was made. Kapler said they've been in contact since, although it has been a busy period for both men. Kapler had very little time to put together a new staff and he crisscrossed the country meeting with players. Bochy did some traveling, including a visit to Miami for Sandoval's wedding. He now is preparing for World Baseball Classic qualifying. 

Bochy and Team France will play their first game March 13 in Tucson. His brother, Joe, will be his bench coach and his son, Brett, will be one of his pitchers. Bochy's team will be overmatched -- his best player is likely to be former Giant Alen Hanson, who has some French blood -- but he has thrived in those situations in the past.

[RELATED: Why Giants might not name closer before they break camp]

Kapler's first camp since taking over for Bochy has encouraged players to find any possible way to get better, and that's something the manager takes to heart. He is constantly looking for ways to improve. So what can Kapler learn from spending time with Bochy in his first season with the Giants?

"I think Boch has a really good feel for baseball from all angles," Kapler said. "I don't think there's an area of the game that he's not very developed in. Trying to get a real well-rounded view of the game through his lens is going to be really valuable for me. 

"I also think he has a really good way of just connecting with people, players, media, staff. I want to do a lot of listening when I have a chance to sit down with Boch."