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Giants GM Harris pinpoints theme that stood out in hot start

NBC Sports
Mauricio Dubon, Donovan Solano

Nobody could have predicted that it would take a year and a half after he was named Giants general manager for Scott Harris to finally welcome his former Chicago Cubs coworkers to Oracle Park. He had to wait an extra season, but it was worth it. 

The Cubs arrived in first place in the NL Central on Thursday, but they found themselves facing a Giants club that's also in first, thanks in large part to the moves Harris has made along with president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi. The first night of the series went well for the Giants, pushing them 14 games above .500. 

It's been a surprising start, and as he looked back on it during the NBC Sports Bay Area Giants Pregame Show on Thursday, Harris said there's a part of it that really stands out.

"I think one theme that I'm certainly thinking about that is exciting is the aggressive brand of baseball that we're playing right now," Harris said. "It feels like every night Kap is very aggressive in how he's deploying pinch-hitters, he's not afraid to grab a bat off the bench in a high-leverage spot early in the game to take advantage of a big spot for us and that puts a lot of pressure on the opposing manager and it's helped us win a lot of games this year.

"Our hitters have been very aggressive in how they're building and executing game plans. That has helped us jump out to a lead seemingly every night these days."

 

The Giants have gotten on the scoreboard first in 34 of 56 games, and they're 25-9 when they jump ahead. Regardless of how the game is going, though, manager Gabe Kapler has been more aggressive than anyone in pushing for small edges. He has already used 110 pinch-hitters, nine more than the next closest team, and Giants pinch-hitters are tied for the MLB lead with six homers and lead the way with 20 RBI.

Harris has seen the theme in other facets, too. 

"Our pitchers have been very aggressive in how they're attacking the zone and going right after hitters, which has propelled us to one of the top three rotations in all of baseball, and I think our coaches have done a great job of being aggressive in recommending adjustments to our players to help them get better each day," Harris said. "One thing for me is I just think that aggressiveness is becoming a part of our identity and I think it's one of the main reasons why we're off to such a great start."

The continued winning has put the two men leading the front office in an interesting spot. When Zaidi and Harris filled their rotation with guys on one-year deals, most around the game figured the Giants would be the top seller before the trade deadline. With the way Kevin Gausman, Anthony DeSclafani and Alex Wood have pitched, the Giants could clean up at the deadline if they weren't in position to make the playoffs, but instead they look like they might need to be buyers. 

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Harris said it's a bit too early to be thinking about that, although the start of June is the time of year when executives generally start zeroing in on needs. He said he wants to see how the club's health looks before making any determinations. 

"One challenge for us is we've been so banged up," he said. "We've lost so many players due to injuries so far this year that I think we're waiting to assess our team needs until we get players such as Brandon Belt and Darin Ruf and Tommy La Stella and Aaron Sanchez and some of those names back off the shelf and watch them play with the rest of the group of healthy players and then we can start to assess what our needs will be come the end of July."

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