Giants

Giants encouraged by how players are handling early safety protocols

Giants encouraged by how players are handling early safety protocols

The owners and players don't appear to be any closer to a resolution that will allow baseball to return to the field this summer, but behind the scenes, the Giants haven't allowed that to be too discouraging. They know that at any moment they might get word that they have to rush to San Francisco for Spring Training 2.0, and they're trying to stay ready.

While players have mostly been diligently working out at home since camp ended in March, the Giants quietly opened up their Scottsdale facility last month to further ramp things up. Players who live in the area have been allowed to come in to work out, although there is a limit on how many staffers can be in the building at one time and visits are staggered to allow for proper distancing. 

During a recent appearance on KNBR, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said he was encouraged by the way players are going about their workouts when allowed into the facility, calling it a positive development. 

"One of the realities of our situation is it's going to be a different experience for players and staff coming to the ballpark," Zaidi said. "What it means to even get in the front door, frankly, but then what it's going to look like inside. For us to be able to ramp that facility up and in very limited numbers have people coming through, players coming through, going through individual workouts, it's exposed them to what it's going to be like."

If the game resumes, the ramp-up from this point will be significant. The Giants are talking every day about what a shortened season might look like, sharing ideas on how to allow the players and coaches to properly train. 

While the organization has not fully decided if their three-week training period will take place at Scottsdale Stadium or Oracle Park, the strong lean is to return to San Francisco.

While Scottsdale Stadium provides an extra field, more bullpen mounds, and a new state-of-the-art weight room and training facility, Giants employees believe that San Francisco is safer overall, having made a much stronger commitment to trying to flatten the curve. A few high-ranking team employees who stayed in Arizona originally have returned to the Bay Area.

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Oracle Park is unmatched as a baseball stadium, but there will be complications for a second spring training and shortened season. The Giants have talked about putting up temporary batting cages in the concourses and creating new clubhouse and changing spaces to spread players and coaches out. 

This is all just the tip of the iceberg, and if the Giants get word that baseball is returning, it'll be a wild scramble to get everything in place. It'll be something unlike anything players have been through before, but the early signs are encouraging. 

[RELATED: What shortened season would have looked like for 2019 Giants]

"Our players that have come through (Scottsdale Stadium) have been awesome with complying with all the rules, some which I'm sure seem a little bit onerous under the circumstances, but again it's just the reality of the situation that we're in," Zaidi said. "We're going to have to do this on a much grander scale if we get going here in a couple of weeks. Seeing the players being so bought-in to the safety protocols we put in place, that's been a real encouraging sign, because we're going to need that on a broad scale."

Giants' Austin Slater embracing versatile role for Giants this season

Giants' Austin Slater embracing versatile role for Giants this season

When asked what position he'll play this season, Giants utility man Austin Slater went outside the box. Well, actually, he stayed right in the box

"Right-handed batter's box," Slater jokingly said Friday to KNBR's Mark Willard.

Slater, 27, fits the bill of what the Giants are looking for right now. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, along with manager Gabe Kapler, have preached positional versatility. And Slater might be San Francisco's very own Swiss Army knife.

Last season alone, Slater played four positions for the Giants -- right field, left field, first base and second base -- and that was over just 68 games. He also played 11 games at third base and three in center field for the Sacramento River Cats in Triple-A.

"I feel good all over the diamond, all over the outfield," Slater said. "Wherever they put me, I'm OK with it."

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Aside from catcher, the only position Slater for sure won't be playing is the same one he actually was drafted at by the Los Angeles Dodgers out of high school. Slater was a star prep shortstop in Florida before missing his senior season due to a freak accident, and went to Stanford originally as a shortstop as well. 

He primarily has played the outfield while wearing an infielder's glove recently more often. But Slater still is waiting to play his childhood position in the big leagues.

"I'll jab at Ron Wotus every once in a while and ask him when I'm going to play short," Slater said. "But he'll tell me the same thing every time. 'Get off the drugs, sober up.' But it's fun and I enjoy working at each position." 

[RELATED: Why Giants' not-too-distant future could be extremely bright]

Slater hit a career-high five homers and nine doubles last season. He also had a .275 batting average off lefties with an .838 OPS. That should help him find playing time in the shortened 60-game season. 

More than anything, though, Slater's versatility could be his golden ticket. There will be plenty of competition for the Opening Day roster and beyond, but Slater gives Kapler a lot of options.

Funny Madison Bumgarner pitching routine shows some things never change

Funny Madison Bumgarner pitching routine shows some things never change

Some things never change. 

While Madison Bumgarner no longer is with the Giants, his time with the Arizona Diamondbacks is proving the switch of a uniform doesn’t mean the shift of a personality.

Prior to a recent simulated game, MadBum made sure his outing was all his:

He’s previously discussed some of the things he does, like participating in a rodeo under an alias Mason Saunders, that his hobbies are what they are, and he doesn’t “do anything just for fun, per se.”

So the music being shut off is a sentiment to that.

Perhaps this means he will thrive during the season as fans will not be in the stands due to the MLB safety protocol. However, some teams admitted they will utilize fan noise to be played out of the speakers with cardboard cutouts in the stands.

[RELATED: Madison Bumgarner gives funny response about facing MadBum]

Not sure that will be something he would be able to control, but he’s used to playing in front of crowds. Whether he’s listening to Max Muncy yell at him to fish a home run ball out of the ocean, or you know, throwing in a World Series, the noise never appears to distract him.

It’s nice to know he can control that -- at least for now.