The Giants made a somewhat surprising but necessary move on Tuesday, sending Mauricio Dubon down to Triple-A for the first time since he joined the big league roster late in the 2019 season.
Dubon has struggled in recent weeks, both at the plate and defensively, and the staff felt he would be best served playing every day in Triple-A and getting his rhythm back. He was replaced by Thairo Estrada, a similar utility player who was tearing up Triple-A West.
The Dubon move started to look like something that would happen on Monday night, when manager Gabe Kapler chose backup catcher Curt Casali to pinch-hit over Dubon and Austin Slater, who also has gone cold at the plate. On Thursday's Giants Talk podcast, broadcaster Duane Kuiper explained why the "tough love" move was necessary but said he expects Dubon to be back soon.
"I hope the Giants at least nudged him (and told him) we're sending you down so that you can get at-bats, but we're also sending you down for you to get better, because how you played the last couple of months isn't really good enough to be here right now. It's tough love," Kuiper said. "You need to be better, and it's not just at-bats, it's everything -- baserunning, fielding, throwing, everything, and here's your chance to tighten things up.
"And also I'm sure that Gabe and Farhan (Zaidi) told him that when we think that you're progressing, you're going to be back. That's what every big leaguer needs to hear: 'You're going down, but if you do all the right things you'll be back.' He's talented (to) where they need him to be the backup shortstop. He's talented (to) where he can get back here and he can get back here fairly soon, but he's got to tighten some things up, he really does."
Dubon was the Opening Day center fielder but had been used somewhat sparingly in June. He made eight starts in the month, batting .205 with one homer. Dubon was one of the roster's better defensive players early in the season and still rates above average overall while playing four different positions, but he has recently had some uncharacteristic mistakes on the infield.
Kuiper explained how Dubon was put in a difficult position as a young player often tasked with coming in as a defensive replacement late in games the Giants were leading.
"I felt bad for the kid because he's really done everything the organization has asked him to do, from moving to multiple positions and coming in late in the game for defense," he said. "There's nothing worse than coming in to play defense in a close game in the eighth and ninth inning, it's absolutely the worst. You've got everything to lose and nothing to gain, and that's the position that he has kind of been put in."