Giants

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."

Why Giants mentioned Bryce Harper, Gerrit Cole in explaining new staff

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USATSI

Why Giants mentioned Bryce Harper, Gerrit Cole in explaining new staff

SAN DIEGO -- When you hear the words "player development," you think of 19-year-olds learning on back fields at the minor league facility in Scottsdale, or a roving hitting instructor spending time making swing changes with prospects Joey Bart or Heliot Ramos, or a coach teaching a Logan Webb or Sean Hjelle a new pitch. 

But when Giants manager Gabe Kapler talks about player development -- and he does so often -- he's also thinking about guys like Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford. Kapler said this week that there's "not much I feel more strongly about" than players continuing to develop at the big league level, and that played a huge role as he hired a young staff that will ideally bring an innovative approach.

"There's evidence all over the place in Major League Baseball about players who reinvent themselves or take major steps forward and reestablish their value at the Major League level," Kapler said this week at the MLB Winter Meetings. 

The Giants are building for the future, but they also believe they can squeeze much more out of the existing core. And when Bart and Ramos are veterans one day, they want those guys to continue to find new levels, too. As he talked about player development at the big league level, Kapler pivoted and told a story about Bryce Harper, who already had more than 900 games under his belt when he joined Kapler's Phillies last season. 

"Bryce Harper, I think, was influenced heavily by Paco Figueroa, our first base and outfield coach, mostly just because Paco was not concerned about approaching Bryce," Kapler said. "He recognized that Bryce Harper wanted to be coached and wanted to develop, and he was willing to approach. Bryce recognized that so much so that at the end of the year when we were doing our exit meetings, Bryce recognized that Paco had been influential in his career and helped him become a better outfielder and baserunner."

Harper was worth negative-26 Defensive Runs Saved in 2018 according to Fangraphs -- just about the only blemish on his résumé as a free agent -- but was plus-9 in his first season in Philadelphia, a massive improvement. The Giants were actually intent on going that path long before Kapler arrived. When they offered Harper $310 million last year, their existing analytics and coaching staffs had ideas about how they could get more out of Harper defensively with positioning changes. 

Harper's not the only example the Giants will use to sell their vision to veteran players. General manager Scott Harris mentioned Gerrit Cole as another who found new ways to add to his game. 

"Look at the strides he made the last two seasons and now he signed the largest free-agent contract (for a pitcher) in the history of the game," Harris said. "You look at the strides he made when he first burst onto the scene for the Pirates and what he did in Houston. Their coaching staff was largely responsible for the development he saw at the Major League level."

The Astros' staff has gotten a lot of credit for turning Cole into the pitcher the Pirates were expecting when they took him first overall in 2011. Cole had a 3.50 ERA in Pittsburgh and a 2.68 ERA in Houston, where his strikeout rate jumped from 8.4 per nine innings to 13.1. He was worth 15.4 WAR in five seasons with the Pirates and then skyrocketed to 13.4 in two seasons in Houston. 

[RELATED: Kershaw believes Dodgers signing MadBum would be 'great']

Kapler and Harris are not walking into an organization that has a Harper or Cole, but they believe their new coaching staff and player-development methods can get the most out of existing talent. That'll be a focus in spring training, and the conversations have already begun with some veterans. Kapler, who mentioned J.D. Martinez as another example of late-career adjustments, said he has spoken to Posey multiple times since getting hired. 

"I think that a lot of established successful Major Leaguers want to get better and sometimes they don't know how," Kapler said. "In some cases, it's because coaches haven't approached them because they don't want to break something that's working well, but I think those days are gone and I think players crave having coaches approach them and ask them to make changes."

Dodgers signing Madison Bumgarner would be 'great,' Clayton Kershaw says

Dodgers signing Madison Bumgarner would be 'great,' Clayton Kershaw says

Despite what Giants fans want to believe, Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw are friends.

Before many Giants-Dodgers games over the years, they could be seen talking on the field, in plain sight of everyone.

So it should come as any surprise that Kershaw would love to have Bumgarner on the Dodgers.

"I love Bum," Kershaw said Friday at a Dodgers holiday event according to Dodgers Nation. "If we signed him, that’d be great."

NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic reported Thursday, citing sources, that the Dodgers and Bumgarner have a mutual interest in a deal.

Bumgarner in Dodger blue is the worst nightmare for Giants fans. But it's a real possibility with Los Angeles missing out on top free agent Gerrit Cole.

[RELATED: Padres reportedly looking at Bumgarner]

Kershaw hasn't been able to bring a World Series to Los Angeles on his own, so of course, he would love for a postseason hero to come help him end the Dodgers' title drought.