Giants

Gabe Kapler shares short message to Giants' spring training full squad

Gabe Kapler shares short message to Giants' spring training full squad

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Gabe Kapler has said repeatedly in recent weeks that he wants the Giants to be more prepared than their opponents, so it seemed likely that he would spend weeks working on the exact speech he would give when the full squad assembled for the first time on February 17.

But the first meeting was not a marathon. There was no dramatic speech, just a quick message from Kapler, one from Farhan Zaidi, some words from a couple of veterans, and then the Giants hit the field and began playing catch. 

"Players on Day 1, the thing they want to do the most is to get out on the field and compete," Kapler said. "So to squeeze everything in to Day 1 for the pageantry maybe doesn't make as much sense as to try to share those messages on a daily basis."

Kapler will have plenty of time to spread his beliefs. During his first day leading the full roster, he simply wanted the players to compete and to get used to some subtle changes. The Giants brought a machine out to throw sliders to hitters after they had taken a couple of rounds of batting practice, giving them a chance to hit breaking balls much sooner than they normally would.

Kapler said he was encouraged by how many players took advantage of the extra opportunity. 

"Those slider machines are not comfortable for players, particularly when they haven't seen a lot of pitches," Kapler said. "So to see the engagement and the buy-in was really cool. Our hitting coaches did a great job of making it a menu option, and then it was even cooler to see our players select the more difficult and challenging practice."

Kapler and the staff had a week to get pitchers and catchers used to some new ways of practicing and the emphasis on competition, but it was a bit different when the position players showed up. The bullpen is basically a wide-open competition and it's unclear who the fifth starter will be along with the backup catcher.

But the starting lineup is a bit more set, with veterans at catcher, first, short and third and roster options like Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence already in place. 

You could say there's far less competition on the position player side, but that's not how the Giants want their players viewing it. Evan Longoria, who played with Kapler in Tampa Bay, said it was good to see how much emphasis is being put on winning jobs this spring. Even the core veterans are being made to feel pushed a bit. 

[RELATED: Giants use umpires during bullpens, ramp up spring intensity]

"There are a lot of jobs open, there's a lot of things that guys are going to be competing for in camp, which is great," Longoria said. "Hopefully we see some of that fire come out, friendly competition or real. It's not really friendly, you know. Guys are playing for their livelihood and it's a job, so I love seeing that competitive nature come out in guys.

"It was good to hear guys stand up and I think it's really good to get those things out there in the open from the beginning."

Giants' Gabe Kapler challenged GM Scott Harris to play 'MLB The Show'

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AP

Giants' Gabe Kapler challenged GM Scott Harris to play 'MLB The Show'

Preparations for the 2020 MLB season have taken some creative forms with games pushed back by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Giants manager Gabe Kapler told KNBR's "Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks" earlier this week he was staying sharp by playing "MLB The Show 20." Kapler's apparently so hooked on Sony's signature baseball simulation that he has tried recruiting some of San Francisco's front office to join him.

The pitch didn't work on first-year Giants general manager Scott Harris.

"All I know is that Gabe challenged me to a game the other day," Harris told "The Murph & Mac Show" on Thursday morning. "He told me to go buy a [PlayStation 4] and get the game, and he wanted to battle-test some new in-game strategies. And I told him that the peak of my video-game career was 'Mario Kart' on [the Nintendo 64], so I was woefully unqualified to play 'The Show.' "

Harris confessed he wasn't much of a gamer growing up, as his parents didn't allow video games in their household. That led to him getting "absolutely smoked" when he would play video games with his friends, but not to him making up for lost time as an adult.

The No. 2 in the Giants' front office is all in favor of San Francisco's players and coaches taking up "The Show." Harris said he was happy with how people throughout the organization are navigating "uncharted territory."

"I think there's a lot of stuff that we can be doing right now," Harris said. "We're investing in a lot of systems in some of the infrastructure that we're building here with the Giants. We're finding some of the developmental processes and some of the evaluative processes are hopefully gonna lay the groundwork for future trades, or signings or draft picks."

[RELATED: Giants release several veterans, including reliever Blevins]

Harris is getting used to his and the Giants' new normal with play suspended. It could be a while longer before the season begins, after MLB and the players association agreed they wouldn't play until fans attending games don't pose a health risk.

The Giants' front office is laying the groundwork for the season whenever it does start. So are the players and coaches, and that apparently includes a lot of "The Show."

"I never really thought I'd work in a world where video games are actually a part of preparing yourself for a season," he said, "but everyone's staying creative and productive in their own ways."

Zac Efron reveals epic Dusty Baker autograph story as young Giants fan

Zac Efron reveals epic Dusty Baker autograph story as young Giants fan

When he was the Giants' manager, Dusty Baker might not have realized it at the time, but he was signing a ball for someone who would one day become one of the most well-known actors in Hollywood.

All he knew was a young kid with bleached hair wanted his autograph. That fan was Zac Efron.

Efron, a longtime Giants fan, recently told a story about his encounter with Baker on an episode of "Hot Ones."

Without skipping a beat, Efron talked about a special baseball he has that was signed by the former skipper. But there was a fun story behind it. 

"He drove by, and he was on a motorcycle, so he didn't have a window he could roll up," Efron said. "I ran up to him with a baseball, and I was like 'Will you sign this?' I had a blue pen and the sweet spot of a brand-new ball, and I showed it to him, and Dusty was like 'Ah, I can't right now, I gotta go to church.'"

Efron said after hearing that response, he assumed that just meant Baker didn't have time to sign the ball, even though he said he would be back in 30 minutes.

Baker left. Efron was sure the three-time Manager of the Year wouldn't return, but Baker and his motorcycle did 45 minutes later.

"I was like, 'No way!'" Efron recalled. "And he literally pointed right at me, and was like, 'Come over here.'"

The "High School Musical" star got his autograph. It meant a lot to him that Baker made the return trip to give him that signature. And I'm sure the motorcycle was a nice extra touch. 

[RELATED: Kruk and Kuip recall legendary Kershaw-MadBum battles]

"It was really cool," Efron described. 

Baker was the Giants' manager for a decade from 1993-02 and finished with an 840-715 record. He's now managing the Houston Astros.