SAN FRANCISCO -- Celebrations will be different this year, but you still can hear it when a rumble goes through the dugout in an empty park. That was the case midway through the Giants' simulated game Thursday at Oracle Park.
Billy Hamilton walked through the outfield during an inning break, and his Giants teammates cheered from the dugout as he headed to the clubhouse. Hamilton had missed the first 13 days of camp for undisclosed reasons. Minor league right-hander Luis Madero also was in camp for the first time.
"Luis and Billy both passed their physicals, and they have the green light to perform all activities," Giants manager Gabe Kapler said in a video conference call. "We'll build them up slowly, understanding that the best way to prevent injuries, from our perspective, is a nice slow progression. We're not going to rush either one of them. We're going to re-evaluate after today."
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Hamilton has one week to prepare for the Giants' opener, and figures to be a valuable piece for Kapler when available. He is one of the better defensive center fielders in the game and also might be the fastest player in the sport.
The Giants already have talked internally of the advantage Hamilton could give them with the new runner-on-second rule, so you might think he would need less time to get ready for the opener because he could help the team as a pinch runner at first. But Kapler said that won't be the case.
"I don't see that as a realistic expectation right now," Kapler said. "I think one of the things that we know is building up legs are just as important as building up arm strength and just as important as building up a number of swings."
Hamilton went right to work building up those legs. An hour after the game ended, he was the only player on the field, running sprints in left field and doing leg stretches. "I'll be here all night!" he yelled at Shaun Anderson as the right-hander walked to the clubhouse.
The Giants are getting some players back at just the right time. Left-hander Jarlin Garcia was also a mysterious absence, but he has been on the field the last two days and could still fill a valuable role in the bullpen. Madero was one of two players -- along with Hunter Bishop -- who gave the Giants permission to acknowledge that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.