Giants' Gabe Kapler shares his side of Dodgers assault controversy

Giants' Gabe Kapler shares his side of Dodgers assault controversy

Gabe Kapler knew the questions were coming Wednesday when he was announced as Giants manager.

During his time as director of player development for the Dodgers, Kapler has been accused of mishandling assault allegations in 2015 against Dodgers minor league players. Kapler, who worked under Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi in LA, knew he was not the popular choice to succeed legendary skipper Bruce Bochy. The assault reporting controversy was something that doesn't sit well with a lot of people, and Kapler and Zaidi both answered numerous questions about the incidents during the 58-minute introductory press conference Wednesday.

Kapler was apologetic, owning up to mistakes he made. He noted any actions he made came from a good place and had the victims' best interest at heart. 

After the press conference, Kapler sat down in an exclusive one-on-one interview with NBC Sports Bay Area's Amy Gutierrez where he discussed the assault reporting controversy, the mistakes he made and explained why there was no cover-up.

"One misconception that needs to be cleared up is that the information was shared immediately up the chain," Kapler told Amy G. "Also the information was shared within player development with the Los Angeles Dodgers. I think that's the most important thing. Usually, when a cover-up happens there's not a lot of communication about it. There's been plenty of emails, and phone conversations and in-person conversations to talk through some of those things."

Kapler then went on to discuss his involvement in the situation and the regrets he has in how it was handled, pointing to his own naivete when dealing with assault allegations.

"The thing I probably want to convey most is the biggest mistake that I made was naively believing that I could handle some of these situations by myself," Kapler told Amy G. "What I should have done is I should have reached out to experts in the field that might have been able to advise on how to handle these situations better. I feel a lot of remorse that -- I'm sorry that I wasn't better equipped to support the victims in these cases. Even though I acted with the best of intentions to try to support and help, I didn't execute on that well.

"I'm really disappointed in myself about that," Kapler continued. "But I also see this as an opportunity. A moment that can lead to a movement and better outcomes and I see this as a real opportunity to do things different the next time around and to figure out ways not just to protect victims of physical assault, not just to protect victims of sexual assault, but to support victims. To use this platform and educate players about how to be better when these situations come up. I take that responsibility very seriously, I know I have a lot to learn about it. I'll always do the best job that I can in getting the most information and counsel and help from the experts in the field."

Earlier this year, Kapler wrote a blog post explaining the incident but took a lot of criticism for not apologizing in the post. He apologized during his introductory press conference and was very candid about the missteps he and the Dodgers took.

"We've had a lot of opportunity to reflect on the situation," Kapler said. "And really challenge ourselves. We didn't do everything that we could possibly do to execute in a way we would have felt most proud of. Thinking back to that time, again, the way I would have been better would have been to give the information to experts in the field who could have actually taken over the process. I naively and in some cases arrogantly felt that I could help by mediating and being a facilitator and I was just in over my skis.

"I didn't have the ability to do that. I didn't have the knowledge to help and I didn't ask for it. That's the thing I regret the most."

Both Dodgers minor leaguers who were involved in the incidents were released by the club, but the incidents were not reported to the authorities because that's what the victims asked for, Kapler told Amy G.

[RELATED: How Kapler plans to handle veteran core of Giants' lineup]

His first day as Giants manager was unlike most first days managers encounter. Kapler knows he has a lot of work to do to earn the trust of the fan base. He also knows that doesn't happen overnight, but believes eventually, through day-in-day-out example, Giants fans will see the real Gabe Kapler. Someone who cares deeply about righting wrongs and putting people before players and the game.

"Who I am is someone who really cares about the well-being of others," Kapler said. "Who I am is someone who cares deeply about social issues in a community like San Francisco and a champion and an advocate for these issues. I can't build that trust in a one-on-one conversation, you have to build through action over time.

"I think I take action steps for the good of society and people every single day. That will get recognized ultimately."

Giants won't have set bullpen roles when 2020 MLB Opening Day arrives

Giants won't have set bullpen roles when 2020 MLB Opening Day arrives

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants are being coy about what their rotation will look like at the start of the season. They prefer to talk about most of their pitchers as being "bulk innings" guys, and when Jeff Samardzija, Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly pitched in the same simulated game earlier this week, the subterfuge was ramped up. 

But there's no mystery about what the end goal will be next Thursday in Los Angeles and for the 59 games that follow. You want to get a lead to the ninth, to your closer, and take part in a socially-distanced handshake line a few minutes later. 

This, however, is again where it gets complicated for the 2020 Giants. What if you have no set closer, as seems to be the case? What if you have just one pitcher -- Tony Watson -- in your bullpen with a long track record of success in the late innings? With a week left until their opener, the Giants have a vision of what their overall bullpen will look like but very little clarity in late-game situations, and manager Gabe Kapler said earlier this week that he doesn't think they're "in a race to decide that."

"We don't really have the personnel with the track record where we could just slot guys into roles," Kapler said. "Outside of Watty, and Watty is still working himself into shape, we don't have a long track record of success, a long track record of guys being in one role in our bullpen. I think roles will define themselves as performance happens in-season at the major league level. I don't see us as rushing to set roles before Opening Day in our bullpen."

To be fair, this isn't a completely blank slate. Watson has closed at the big league level and has spent his entire Giants career as a dependable late reliever. While he has been slowed by a spring shoulder injury, Watson threw a second live BP session Tuesday and should be cleared by the opener. 

There's absolutely no doubt that Tyler Rogers will pitch somewhere in the late innings, and the staff is confident that last September's dominance is real and, more importantly, that Rogers has the mentality to close if needed. Trevor Gott stands as the third easy answer, and as a former college and minor league closer he's accustomed to the stress of the ninth. But Gott also is being stretched out in camp, and like Rogers, he could find himself being thrown into high-leverage situations earlier in games. 

This all seems incredibly stressful for a first-year manager, especially one who came here with questions about how he handled his bullpen at times in Philadelphia, and who follows one of the great bullpen maestros in managerial history in Bruce Bochy. But Kapler has embraced the unknown. His player development background shines through when you ask about the bullpen, in large part because the upcoming decisions are somewhat about deciding which players have the equipment -- physical and mental -- to handle a large role. 

The bullpen figures to be made up primarily of former starters and swingmen, and they are not accustomed to the seventh or eighth inning of a close game. It could include youngsters like Caleb Baragar, Sam Wolff, Dany Jimenez and Tyler Cyr, none of whom have big league experience. Jarlin Garcia and Wandy Peralta stand out as two lefties who could be especially valuable in the late innings next weekend against Cody Bellinger or Max Muncy, but those would be spots that are relatively new to them. 

"This is going to take a lot of projection and a lot of scouting, more evaluation than most field staffs are used to, and that's a very exciting thing," Kapler said. "We're going to have to place our bets on the ability of our pitchers to handle those roles."

Sometimes, those bets will be placed after seemingly innocuous moments. Kapler raved about Wolff the other day, noting the right-hander's poise when there was a runner jumping around on second in a scrimmage. He said a moment like that shows a player can "keep his heartbeat slow and low."

The Giants already know Watson is capable of that, and Kapler identified Rogers as Gott as two more who are comfortable in any situation. Rogers, in particular, may wind up being a key piece over the first couple weeks as the rest of the bullpen hierarchy gets sorted out. 

The submariner has looked headed for the closer role, but Kapler said he has had conversations with Rogers about being versatile. He will pitch multiple innings at times. He could take down the sixth and the seventh, or the eighth and the ninth. He could be used against tough righties in any situation, but the Giants are also confident his fastball-slider combo will stifle lefties. 

[RELATED: Plan for Joey Bart remains unchanged]

"We see him as a Swiss Army Knife, we see him as a guy that can bounce back after a two-inning stint and giving us an additional inning the next day," Kapler said. "We see him potentially going through a larger pocket of the opposition's lineup when it calls for that and maybe we need a little bit of length, and we also see his ability to act or perform in a traditional reliever's role."

This is not a traditional season by any means, but when you have the lead after six innings, the goal will be the same as it has always been. The Giants know part of what they'll do. They'll spend the first few weeks of the season trying to identify the rest of the solution. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Giants scrimmage notes: Plan hasn't changed for hard-hitting Joey Bart

Giants scrimmage notes: Plan hasn't changed for hard-hitting Joey Bart

SAN FRANCISCO -- Life went on at Oracle Park on Wednesday afternoon, even if Twitter wouldn't allow much of the press box to capture it. The Giants played another intrasquad game, seven innings this time, and there was a clear standout among young position players. 

Five days after Buster Posey bowed out of the season, Joey Bart continued to show why it's hard to believe he's not one of this organization's two best catchers. Bart had the strongest batting practice of anyone in the afternoon group, repeatedly crushing balls deep into the bleachers in left and then showing off his two-way game when Team Orange faced Team Black. 

The front office and staff have been adamant that Bart has more to work on and isn't in the mix for Opening Day. But perhaps the veterans on the club are sending a subtle message.

Two days after Evan Longoria praised Bart, Wilmer Flores said this when asked which young Giants has impressed him: "I really like Joey Bart's approach. He can hit the ball hard. He has really impressed me. I didn't get to see him in spring training but I'm getting to see him now. He's really got some pop."

Bart also struck out twice Wednesday, and afterward it didn't sound like the entire day had moved the needle at all. Manager Gabe Kapler said the Giants still have a "really strong conviction that Joey's best path to being an excellent major league player is through more repetition and a little more time to develop."

"I think it's important to remember that a lot of the best players in baseball become as good as they are through repetition, sometimes sitting in the dugout and watching games unfold, sometimes watching them from behind the plate and getting lots of reps in the batter's box and time with coaches," Kapler said in a video conference with reporters. "We just see Joey as a player who can really benefit from more reps in the batter's box, more opportunities to gameplan and more opportunities to work with some really great player development and major league coaches (in Sacramento)."

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

--- We're eight days from the opener, so all reps are important. It certainly stood out, then, that right-hander Carlos Navas was stretched out and he struck out five in 2 1/3 innings, allowing just an infield single to Heliot Ramos. Navas had a good year with Double-A Richmond and Triple-A Sacramento last season. While he primarily has been a reliever in his career, he has always been a multi-inning one. That's a good fit in 2020. 

"I think the way that I would describe Carlos right now is dependable and professional, predictable," Kapler said. "I think you need pieces like that in your bullpen. I think you need pieces like that where the staff and his teammates really believe in him on a major league roster. He's making a nice push. Obviously there's a way to go but he's doing a really nice job for us in camp so far."

--- It's all about versatility this season, and even more so in future years. Here are some of the positions we saw Wednesday: Austin Slater in center field, Joe McCarthy at first base and then right field, Luis Toribio at second and third, Mauricio Dubon in center and then at short, Mike Yastrzemski in center. 

Dubon had the defensive play of the day, going deep into center to run down a Tyler Heineman line drive as he ran onto the track. He looked very much like someone who has been playing the outfield his whole life. 

"He did what a good outfielder is supposed to do, (got) that first step, he got it real quick," Flores said. "The rest is history because he's got the speed to do it. I thought he got a great read on that ball. He looked really good out there ... he'll be fine, because he's so athletic. If you can play shortstop like he does you can play center field."

--- The Giants made it official: Their secondary camp will be in Sacramento, as expected. It won't be open to reporters or the public, although hopefully they have a camera up there capturing some of the action.

[RELATED: Can Dickerson repeat last summer's hot streak for Giants?]

--- Rule 5 pick Dany Jimenez had a good day on the mound and Kapler said his last two outings were more encouraging than his spring ones. 

"Dany has shown well his last two outings and is making a nice push," Kapler said. 

--- Trevor Cahill continues to miss time with a nail issue. He looked like a lock for the 30-man roster a couple weeks ago, but he's running out of time to get back on the mound. 

Brandon Belt (sore heel) is progressing well and will start running soon.