When the lockout was finally lifted on Thursday afternoon, the Giants found themselves in an unfamiliar spot.
The organization long ago made it clear to MLB that the preference every year is to start the season on the road, allowing for a final weekend at home and a week of momentum before the team debuts in San Francisco. But when the back-and-forth was finally over and MLB set a date for opening day, the Giants found that they would start the season on April 8 at Oracle Park against the Miami Marlins. It will be the first Opening Day at home since 2009.
"We're fine opening at home, trust me," team president and CEO Larry Baer said Thursday afternoon. "We're focused on not missing a single game and that's where we ended up gratefully."
The schedule change will allow the Giants to start rebuilding some trust right away. While their ownership group was not front and center in contentious negotiations, public sentiment overwhelmingly sided with the players over organizations. Teams were already having trouble selling their usual number of tickets through a pandemic. On Thursday, Baer made reference to that, and the ongoing war in Ukraine, while acknowledging that the Giants will have to push some new initiatives for fans.
"I feel your pain," he said. "We understand that this was incredibly painful. We're coming out of a pandemic, we're in the middle of a horrendous war that is upsetting on multiple levels, even if it's just consuming it on television and reporting. We have an obligation, a fiduciary responsibility to our fans, to deliver baseball. I couldn't be more empathetic with that view, but the good news is we found a way to get it done and to get it done in a way that younger players are going to have a different, improved structure.
"I'm not saying it's perfect for the players. I'm not saying it's perfect for the owners. But this is a step forward, I think."
Baer said the Giants will have "plenty of customer-friendly" programs to announce at some point.
"We have to treat our fans with honey and with open arms and with hugs," he said. "They were put through a few months of unpleasantries, and that's not the way people want to think about baseball."
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The process of winning any angry fans back will be a sprint, as all of this will be. Players will begin reporting to Scottsdale right away with workouts likely to get going over the weekend. The Giants had much of their Cactus League schedule wiped away, but at the moment they're scheduled to face the San Diego Padres on March 18 and go from there. Baer did say the annual Bay Bridge Series against the A's has been cancelled.
That series originally would have taken place before the Giants visited Petco Park for four games and the Milwaukee Brewers for three more. Those games will have to be made up through a combination of doubleheaders, off days and three additional days tacked on to the end of the MLB season.
It won't be hard to make up the games against the Padres, but finding time for a trip to Milwaukee will be tricky. When all is settled, the Giants could find themselves opening at Oracle Park and finishing their season with a trip to the home of the reigning NL Central champs. But they'll take any combination of 162 games they can get at this point.
"We're very grateful (that) the fans will get a full season and will get a postseason and will get the whole baseball mosaic, as they say," Baer said.