Gabe Kapler brought up the names David Ortiz and Bryce Harper, which is close to as lofty as you can go when praising one of your own young players. He laughed and said he wasn't comparing utility man Mauricio Dubon to either of those guys, both of whom are headed for Cooperstown, but they all do share one trait.
Dubon wears his heart on his sleeve, and he wants that beat to pulse through his teammates in big games. When he pulled his hands in and shot a three-run homer into the empty seats at Coors Field on Thursday, Dubon stylishly dropped his bat and turned and screamed at his own dugout. He certainly enjoyed his trip around the bases, holding his finger to his lips as he touched the plate, but a few minutes later the Rockies got their revenge.
A veteran team certainly noticed Dubon's emotions, and when Daniel Murphy swung it right back with a two-run blast, he glared at the center fielder as he rounded second. The Rockies would go on to win 6-4, dropping the Giants to 1-3 on this huge road trip. It was a disappointing finish, but they learned something about a player they picture as a big part of their future.
"I played with guys who expressed themselves after a big home run. Bryce Harper is like that, every time he hits a big home run or does something great on the field he wants everybody in his dugout to experience that. He wants them to celebrate with him," Kapler said. "I think the same could be said for David. Mauricio has a long way to go but that's his personality.
"I appreciate Mauricio for the energy and the passion that he brings to the field every day. As long as he's celebrating with his teammates, I support it."
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Of course, not everybody does. The game is changing fast, but this still is a sport that doesn't embrace displays of emotion. Murphy made that clear with his grim stare out at Dubon as he touched second.
Dubon said he didn't see Murphy looking out at him but he was told about it later. In typical Dubon fashion, the whole thing left him smiling.
"I thought it was cool. I thought it was pretty awesome," he said. "I had a lot of emotion knowing where I came from and it's the start of the year and me not playing every day right now, and then me not having a good first two at-bats. It was pretty emotional. I enjoyed it as everybody saw.
"What Daniel did, it is what it is, I guess. It's something that's been going on around the league forever. He's probably trying to get me grounded. I respect him a lot. I respect him a lot. I enjoy what he did, too."
For Dubon, there was no thought about showing up the Rockies. This was simply a release for a young player who entered the day with a .549 OPS and one extra-base hit. Dubon had seen his playing time dwindle, but he showed enough at the plate -- he later picked up another hit -- and in center that he should get back in the mix against the Dodgers, who will start two lefties this weekend.
Dubon had perhaps his best all-around day in the big leagues, particularly because of where he started it. With Mike Yastrzemski getting a breather, Dubon was in center field, a position he picked up over the offseason and two abbreviated camps. He has impressed in workouts and over the first couple of weeks of the season, but Coors Field is a different monster, with massive gaps to cover as a center fielder. Dubon handled it all with ease, sprinting in to catch one shallow fly ball and getting a good jump on another that he gloved in front of right fielder Hunter Pence. In the second, he added to the highlight reel by robbing Matt Kemp of extra bases.
Dubon took a perfect route on Kemp's deep fly to right-center, but it kept carrying in the thin air. As his feet hit the track, Dubon made a leaping grab.
"I think what was really impressive was his warning track and his wall awareness," Kapler said. "In that case, particularly not having much exposure to center field, not having much exposure to Coors Field, it's tricky, because you're not exactly sure how many steps you have before you hit the wall. I think he'll tell you that he thought he was a little bit closer to the wall than he was, but that's still a nuanced play. Having played here myself I can tell you it's tricky with the angles and the depth. I thought it was an excellent play."
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It was a good all-around day for one of the newer Giants, one who has brought some needed juice to the dugout. Kapler said he won't be the one to stifle it.
"I think that baseball needs and will benefit from players who express themselves," he said. "It needs and benefits from players who are emotional, like Mauricio is."