The last thing Giants manager Gabe Kapler did before the coronavirus shut down the sport was name Johnny Cueto his Opening Day starter. Four months later, that remains the case.
After Cueto got past 60 pitches in a simulated game Tuesday, Kapler said he had a long conversation with the right-hander and Cueto will start against the Dodgers next Thursday in a nationally-televised game.
Cueto, of course, had already made this official:
Cueto @ Kershaw 7/23 🙏🏿 ⚾️ 🐎 https://t.co/xmoLINHuXu— Johnny Cueto (@JohnnyCueto) July 7, 2020
That was some of the news of the day. Here's more from the five-inning game at Oracle Park between Team Black and Team Orange, along with some updates from Kapler:
--- The highlight of the game was Alex Dickerson's bomb to right off Shaun Anderson:
Alex Dickerson hit a bomb in first inning of today’s simulated game. Sadly, no Dick chants in an empty ballpark. pic.twitter.com/ejCa1SJeSl— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) July 14, 2020
--- Tyler Heineman put a bunt down and also stole third for the second time in a week. He continues to make an impression in the battle for the starting catcher job, and Kapler has spent a fair amount of time after workouts talking about the little things Heineman does well.
--- Triples Alley is six feet shorter, but it's still an easy triple for Steven Duggar. He lined one out there with two runners on and cruised into third standing up even though Joe McCarthy got to the ball pretty quickly. Two runs scored.
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--- Joey Bart had a hard single to right in his first at-bat, but his most impressive feat came two pitches earlier. On the first pitch he saw from hard-throwing righty Rico Garcia, Bart smacked a liner to right that bounced off the bricks where the Alaska Airlines suite is located in foul territory down the line. He was about 10 feet away from an opposite-field double off the archway, which is a pretty solid feat for a right-hander at Oracle Park.
Bart has as strong an opposite-field approach as you'll see from a young hitter, and he's not afraid of the ballpark, which generally favors right-handers who pull the ball. When he's up here, you're going to see a few of those rare right-handed-homers into the arcade.
That's the future. Here's the present, and his single:
Joey Bart nearly hit one off the arcade with his first swing (it was just foul) and then shot one into right two pitches later. He has such a good approach at the plate. pic.twitter.com/oqpM6m2Fho— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) July 14, 2020
--- The news is all good on the health front. Brandon Belt was out of his walking boot and took some swings. Tony Watson threw a second live BP session and Kapler said he's "progressing towards being ready for us" next week against the Dodgers. Jarlin Garcia, who has been on the IL for undisclosed reasons, should be back in camp tomorrow. Garcia was having a huge spring and would be a key lefty in the bullpen if ready. There is nothing new on Billy Hamilton, though.
--- The Giants added outfielder Jose Siri to their player pool. The 24-year-old is a former Reds prospect the Giants picked up earlier this year, in part because hitting coach Donnie Ecker -- formerly with the Reds -- liked his potential. "He was a guy with a high ceiling for the Reds and a prospect there with tools and athleticism and power," Kapler said.
--- Every day there's a new thing you notice about a park with no fans. Today the media could clearly make out the conversations on the infield, which were all happening in Spanish for Team Orange. Wilmer Flores (Venezuela), Donovan Solano (Colombia) and Mauricio Dubon (Honduras) were at first, second and third, with Cueto (Dominican Republic) pitching to Chad Tromp (Aruba). Evan Longoria was at third, but seemed to be following along. It was pretty cool to watch.
Kapler mentioned earlier this week that one advantage Tromp has over the other catchers is his ability to more easily communicate with the team's Spanish-speaking pitchers. Cueto was followed on the mound by Wandy Peralta, who is also from the Dominican Republic.