Giants

Giants mailbag: What future holds for young pitchers, top prospect

Giants mailbag: What future holds for young pitchers, top prospect

Today would have been an off day. By this point, the Giants already would have faced Madison Bumgarner for the first time, along with Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler. They would have spent today at Target and Best Buy, loading up their new apartments and rental homes. 

It's a weird time right now, and that gets exacerbated if you look up an MLB schedule. It's a strange alternate reality that so many people had been preparing for over the course of months, but it no longer exists. 

At some point, we'll hopefully get the game back, but there are far more important things to worry about right now. So stay home everybody, and stay safe. We'll keep trying to bring you fun Giants content in the meantime, so here's a mailbag with some actual baseball questions and some interesting ones about covering the team ...  

"How will the pandemic affect operations at Oracle Park if, and when, fans are allowed to attend?" -- rioscristian15

There's unfortunately not really an answer for this. One thing I've tried to remind people is that it's not as simple as getting 52 players on a field and telling them to be careful. With fans, you have 2,600 or so game-day employees who take care of security, food, etc. It's a massive group that you're getting together for any sporting event, and it feels like a situation where you're all-in or all-out. You can't have a game at Oracle Park and ask people to sit six feet away from each other.

Even without fans, it's complicated. You have players, umpires, coaches, trainers, bat boys and more. You obviously want to broadcast those games, which means cameramen and a broadcast truck of producers, and then you would need security around the ballpark. This is all unprecedented and complicated and I don't think anyone can accurately tell you what a game will look like when it returns. 

"Do you see Webb as a solid piece in this year's rotation?" -- its_ya_boi_jime

The last interview I did before the shutdown was with Logan Webb, and we talked about the proposed innings limit. When the game returns, the Giants won't need to worry about Webb's innings, and I don't think they'll have to think as much about building the trade value of others, so I see no reason why Webb wouldn't be in the rotation for the entirety of a shortened season. 

"Do you have a Brian Wilson story?" -- jacksonirwin_

I have plenty! One that comes to mind is my first visit to spring training in 2011 when I was filling in for Andrew Baggarly for a week. Wilson was a full-on character by that point (remember the Taco Bell commercial?).

I was standing in a hallway near the clubhouse with Peter Gammons, and Wilson walked through and the two struck up a conversation about New England. Wilson grew up in New Hampshire. I just remember them talking for 20-30 minutes, and I remember Wilson being a completely different person, soft-spoken and inquisitive, the person I imagine he is when cameras aren't around. 

That one always stood out to me, because when the lights went on, he would immediately put on a show. To this day he still does that. 

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"Your favorite Giants moment ever?" -- kitkat_kitty

You mean, aside from every relief pitcher at-bat? 

This is a really tough question, but I'll give you three that immediately stuck out. 

It was incredible being on the field right after Travis Ishikawa's homer and interviewing Jake Peavy like 10 minutes after he had tried to stop Ishikawa at third. I think that's my favorite interview, because Peavy could barely even recall doing it and everyone was still just so stunned about the way the game had ended. 

The entirety of Game 7 in Kansas City is probably my favorite day on the beat. I've never seen a press box as chaotic as when Gregor Blanco bobbled the ball in the ninth inning, and I'll never forget how tired -- truly exhausted -- guys were in the clubhouse that night. Buster Posey told me he would sleep for three weeks and Madison Bumgarner finally admitted he was out of gas. I spent so long talking to trainer Dave Groeschner that I nearly missed a deadline, and I remember him nursing a beer and talking about how Bumgarner must be half man, half horse. 

One other one that sticks out is Game 1 of the 2010 World Series. I wasn't on the beat at the time but the Mercury News sent me to the park to run our live chat. When it started raining, everyone left the auxiliary press box -- the seats at the top of the third deck in left field -- but I couldn't unplug because the chat would have stopped. Two ushers came over and held umbrellas over me and another one stood there and kept wiping down the table and my laptop. There was just a really cool sense of community that night, and I'll never forget how happy all of the employees and fans in that section were that they were watching their Giants in the World Series. 

"If the season started today, who is one guy you see closing games outside of Watson?" -- meleh555

Tony Watson's shoulder should be fully cleared whenever this season starts, but behind him, I think Trevor Gott is probably first in line. He was a closer at Kentucky and in the minors. I would also be curious to see how far the staff would push Tyler Rogers. From what I saw, he was throwing as well as anyone in Scottsdale. 

The real answer, of course, is that if the season started today the Giants would likely have a committee. Wandy Peralta and Jarlin Garcia are two more who also had outstanding springs. 

"When will Heliot Ramos make his Major League debut?" -- williamclementi63

This, to me, gets at one of the most fascinating questions this season. I was betting on Ramos making a September cameo, but that won't exist anymore, and it's hard to know if minor league baseball will. I'm on the pessimistic side in terms of a start date, but at some point, big league teams may have the clearance and resources to safely hold games. Will towns like Richmond and Sacramento be able to have gatherings of 10,000, though? 

I have no idea what a minor league season will look like and I don't think the Giants do, either. It's wait-and-see, but it's not hard to imagine a situation in which most or all of the minor league year is wiped out. Does the Arizona Fall League then become bigger? Do guys like Ramos and Joey Bart play a full season of Winter Ball? Will teams more aggressively push top prospects next spring because they're a year older, even if they don't have that year of experience? This is just one of a million things that'll have to be decided when baseball resumes. 

"Are we gonna see Mauricio Dubon in center this season?" -- haileyllanez

Yep, Gabe Kapler made that clear before camp shut down. I was asked to make an Opening Day lineup for a simulation we're running and I actually put Dubon in center for the opener because Kershaw was on the mound. 

If you missed it, Dubon was on The Giants Insider Podcast last week and told the story of how he started playing center field. 

"Who do you think will be the next superstar the Giants sign?" -- haroldstuart

I'll just say this, Mookie Betts offers just about everything that made Bryce Harper appealing last February. He doesn't have quite the star power, but he is a better player, and he'll be just 28 when he hits free agency this offseason, which he'll do regardless of how many games are played. 

There will be a lot of competition -- starting with the Dodgers, obviously -- but I expect the Giants to be in on Betts and I think they'll be better positioned than just about anyone when baseball returns. They're rich enough to survive a lost season, and the work continues on Mission Rock even as most of the rest of the city shuts down (it was deemed "essential" because it includes affordable housing).

The Giants might come out of this year looking at a farm system that's top five or 10 and a roster that's just one season from purging most of the big deals. If they want to accelerate the rebuild this winter, they can. 

"Where do you see Seth Corry in five years?" -- rjkerr28

At or near the top of the rotation. I have no idea why Corry doesn't get more love from national publications that rank prospects. As a 20-year-old left-hander, he had a 1.76 ERA in Low-A and struck out 178 in 122 2/3 innings. Give me all of that stock. 

"What is the craziest Giants moment you've ever been a part of?" -- blakewaldrop67

There are the obvious answers like Ishikawa and the Wild Card games and Bumgarner in Game 7, but I think one that stands out for "craziness" is Game 2 in Washington D.C. That is, literally, the coldest I have been in my life, and I know others feel the same. It was really nice and kind of humid during the day so nobody was prepared for what it would feel like when that game went six hours and 23 minutes. 

The press box at Nationals Park is at the very top of the stadium and the head of PR went down to the heated clubhouse in the ninth inning and refused to let his employees close the press box windows as the game went 18 innings. I don't have kind words for him. Baggs turned on a hot dog roller in the dining room and that's where we would go between innings to warm up our hands, with about 20 other journalists gathering in the bathrooms because they were heated. It was a weird scene, and that game had all kinds of craziness too. Yusmeiro Petit's relief performance is one of the most underrated in MLB history, in my opinion.

[RELATED: What impressed Giants GM in spring training]

"Over the years, which Giants player has had your favorite walk-up song?" -- timarcuscousins

Can I go with a reliever warm-up song instead? Javier Lopez never got the credit he deserved for using "Coastin'" by Zion I when he jogged in from the bullpen. That was such a unique choice and fit him perfectly, and I thought it always brought a different vibe to the ballpark. You just knew Lopez was going to strut up to the mound and calmly get out of the jam. 

And then ... Lopez switched it up and went with "The Humpty Dance" for a while. What a legend. 

Mayor London Breed clears way for Giants' June return to Oracle Park

Mayor London Breed clears way for Giants' June return to Oracle Park

The Giants expect the construction of their new bullpens to be finished in the next week or so. It might not be much longer before players are allowed to throw off the mounds. 

San Francisco mayor London Breed outlined new reopening rules on Thursday afternoon, and there was good news for professional sports teams. As part of a phase that will go into effect before June 15, professional sports teams can practice in the city of San Francisco with an approved plan. The city is targeting June 15 for the next phase, which states in part, "Professional sports games, tournaments and other entertainment venues allowed with no spectators with approved plans."

The players and owners are still far apart in negotiations, but if they can strike a deal that gets baseball back in July -- the target is to get games back by the July 4 holiday -- the Giants will be cleared to come home. Internally, they are still discussing the next steps and what a Spring Training 2.0 might look like. They're trying to decide between training at Scottsdale Stadium and doing so at Oracle Park, and the current lean is said to be returning to San Francisco.

It's not quite that easy, of course. The Giants would have to make significant changes to the structure at Oracle Park, expanding clubhouse space and finding new areas within the ballpark's footprint to train while following social distancing rules. They're hashing all of that now, and while they were never all that concerned about the restrictions in San Francisco, it certainly is a sigh of relief that the city is officially moving forward with reopening plans. 

[RELATED: Field to Table: How to make Oracle Park-style garlic fries]

The Giants have quietly reopened one of their other facilities in the meantime. Players who remained in the Scottsdale area have been allowed to work out at the ballpark there, although social distancing is practiced and there are limits on how many people can be in the building at one time. The vast majority of the team remains spread out across the country. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

How Giants fans' support impressed Mike Yastrzemski, Mauricio Dubon

How Giants fans' support impressed Mike Yastrzemski, Mauricio Dubon

Mike Yastrzemski and Mauricio Dubon entered this season as two of the more popular Giants, but a year ago at this time they were in extremely different situations. Yastrzemski was just getting his feet wet in his first week in the big leagues. Dubon was playing in Triple-A for the Milwaukee Brewers. 

They both got shots to grab a starting role later in the 2019 season with the Giants, and both did enough that they were going to be in Gabe Kapler's Opening Day lineup, possibly right at the top. Life changed quickly for Yastrzemski and Dubon, and on this week's episode of "Chalk Talk at Home," they talked about how far they've come. Both said interactions with the Giants fan base stood out early in their big league careers. 

"I struck out my first at-bat and they were still cheering for me walking back," Yastrzemski  "You don't get that too often, where it's a big market, big city with a huge history of winning, and usually fans demand excellence. The fans are so great out there that they're just exited for somebody to get an opportunity to come help the team and they're going to support you."

Dubon came along three months later, but he already knew all about Oracle Park's supportive fan. He grew up as one after moving to Honduras to Sacramento as a teenager. Still, Dubon found himself surprised by early interactions. 

"I was just trying to play baseball and the next thing I know I'm walking down the streets going to the field and a lot of people are honking in the car and saying hi to me, and I had no idea how they recognized me," he said. "It's pretty amazing how the Giants fans are."

Last year's rookie breakouts are training in Nashville and Miami, respectively, and both hope to be back at Oracle Park soon. MLB is angling for a July return, although there are plenty of hurdles. Whenever the sport resumes, it'll do so without fans, which might not be the adjustment you would expect.

Yastrzemski said he's able to get so focused at the plate that he never hears any noise anyway. The outfield may get weird, though. 

"You're used to having to like try and scream at the guy next to you to try and get his attention," he said. "You can whisper now."

[RELATED: Learn how to make Oracle Park's garlic fries]

Yastrzemski said it's going to be interesting to see how guys react, because some really feed off the energy coming from the seats. Dubon certainly qualifies as one of those players, and he said the empty stadium "is going to be weird."

"I'm a guy that feeds off that," he said. "I've just got to get used to it, I've just got to get used to not having anybody. I played in rookie ball here in Florida with literally nobody and it's going to be pretty much like that with the best players in the world."

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]