Gabe Kapler hasn't managed a game for the Giants yet, but he already has learned something about the fan base and reporters who have watched a struggling team for three years: There's a lot of interest in the next top prospect set to arrive at Oracle Park.
Kapler had to answer plenty of questions about Joey Bart in the spring and early in Summer Camp, but the intensity ramped up when Buster Posey opted out of the season, and it has hit another level in recent days as Bart has shined in the wide-open catching competition.
Kapler has mostly reiterated that the Giants believe the former No. 2 overall pick has some development left, but he took his time Saturday to praise Bart for how he's handling the speculation. Kapler said he has checked in on Bart and others have, as well, noting "we're just kind of keeping a pulse on Joey's enthusiasm."
"One of the things I'll say about Joey is that he has had an incredibly professional camp," Kapler said. "With all of the conversations that have been swirling about, he has never let that impact his work in the bullpen, his work with the pitchers. He's had great at-bats, as you guys have seen. He's been a pro, and that is the most important data point, to know that he's where he needs to be and his head is in the right place."
Bart has always been praised for his maturity behind the dish and in the clubhouse, and veteran teammates have made a point of trying to help him become even more comfortable this spring. Evan Longoria said he has tried to take Bart under his wing, and Hunter Pence and Bart are regularly seen walking back and forth from the field to the cages, chatting as they go.
It's clear the veterans see someone who can help them soon, if not now, and Bart has impressed in simulated games as the season has approached. He hit a loud homer Friday night and threw out two baserunners earlier in the week.
"He's prepared to win," outfielder Austin Slater said Saturday. "He has put in a lot of work, especially on the defensive side, which is great to see."