Giants

How Austin Slater became Giants' players association representative

How Austin Slater became Giants' players association representative

Whenever quarantine fully ends, Austin Slater will be significantly more prepared to save par. Slater and his roommates set up a couple of golf holes in their backyard in Arizona and have been practicing their chipping to help pass the time. 

"My golf game was almost nonexistent before the quarantine, and now I have a somewhat OK -- I wouldn't even call it decent -- short game," Slater said on this week's Giants Insider Podcast. 

Throw in video games and dips in the backyard pool and Slater is making the most of his free time. But it's not all fun and games as he waits for the season to return.

Like the rest of the Giants, Slater is working out, throwing where he can, and taking swings to try and stay in game shape. He also happens to be somewhat involved in the ongoing process to return to the field. Before the Giants unexpectedly broke camp, Slater was selected as the unofficial MLB Players Association representative for the clubhouse.

"Technically ... officially ... I'm not the players rep. The elections aren't until June. The players union holds elections every two years in June," Slater said, smiling. "However, I went to the meetings this winter as our representative and obviously there's been -- not only the coronavirus -- but a lot of issues coming up, and I've been lucky enough to be included in a lot of those text conversations and phone calls."

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Matt Cain was the longtime Giants player rep and Cory Gearrin, who has shown a strong interest in politics even while playing, took over after that. When Gearrin was traded in 2018 the Giants temporarily held the position vacant, with Brandon Crawford taking over on an interim basis last year. Each team meets with Tony Clark and the MLBPA every spring and that's when Slater found out he had been elevated. 

"When the players union guys came in for spring training, they asked who's our players rep, and (Buster Posey) said, 'Austin Slater,' " Slater said. "It was a semi-official election, I guess, if Buster deemed me to be the players rep. Crawford did as well.

"Obviously I feel blessed and lucky to be supported by those guys. Obviously our locker room has a lot of veterans, and that they trust me like that, it means a lot to me for sure."

The rep serves on the MLBPA executive board and is responsible for meeting with players on his team and representing them in the resolution of any issues at the club level. It generally is not a very dramatic role, but Slater has found himself on lengthy calls at a time when players are not only dealing with the coronavirus, but also have been expressing concerns about the way free agency has gone the last couple offseasons. The collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2021 season. 

Slater said there have been some long calls with other reps, but it's something he enjoys. It's also something he is well-suited for, and perhaps that's why he was such an easy choice. In addition to being a Stanford alum, Slater is the grandson of former Jacksonville mayor Ed Austin. 

[RELATED: Looking back at Giants' top prospects in 2011]

"That's something that I'm willing to do and it's something that interests me," Slater said of the additional work. "I love baseball, I love the finer details of the sport that maybe a lot of guys either don't pay attention to or don't know about, and I think it has a huge impact on our future careers and the future of baseball.

"It's something that I've taken a personal interest in."

On the podcast, Slater also discussed how long it would take him to get ready for a season, originally getting drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers, taking grounders at second and short and much more. You can download it here.

Giants vs. Rockies live stream: How to watch MLB games online, on TV

Giants vs. Rockies live stream: How to watch MLB games online, on TV

The Giants are set to begin a daunting 10-game road trip Monday that could dramatically alter their 2020 season, as they will square off against the Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros away from home over the next week and a half.

The Giants (5-5) start their trip at Coors Field against the surprising Rockies (6-2). The Giants are coming off a series win against the Texas Rangers, while the Rockies most recently took two out of three from the San Diego Padres.

Here's how you can watch the Giants play the Rockies online (download the MyTeams app here!) and on TV:

Monday, Aug. 3

When: Giants Pregame Live at 5 p.m. PT -- First pitch at 5:40 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports Bay Area
Stream: MyTeams app

Tuesday, Aug. 4

When: Giants Pregame Live at 5 p.m. PT -- First pitch at 5:40 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports Bay Area
Stream: MyTeams app

Wednesday, Aug. 5

When: Giants Pregame Live at 5 p.m. PT -- First pitch at 5:40 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports Bay Area
Stream: MyTeams app

Thursday, Aug. 6

When: Giants Pregame Live at 11:30 a.m. PT -- First pitch at 12:10 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports Bay Area
Stream: MyTeams app

Why Gabe Kapler sees signs of life with Pablo Sandoval's latest swings

Why Gabe Kapler sees signs of life with Pablo Sandoval's latest swings

It was just a single, and Pablo Sandoval ended up standing on first and watching three straight teammates strike out. But his hit in the second inning Tuesday might have been one of the more well-timed ones of his second stint with the Giants. 

All MLB teams have to cut from 30 to 28 players on Thursday morning, and with that deadline looming, it was not hard to look at Sandoval's stat line and see a potentially tough decision coming for the front office. Sandoval still has just three hits in 26 at-bats, and he's not being used in a versatile role. Regardless, manager Gabe Kapler stuck him right back in the lineup, noting that there were signs of life in Tuesday's loss. 

"Last night was a really good signal with respect to his swing," Kapler said on a Zoom call Wednesday morning. "He really crushed some balls, crushed them on the ground, and ultimately in a perfect world you're able to elevate the balls that you hit hardest, and when he's at his best that's exactly what he's doing. What we've seen with Pablo has been a slow progression towards his good swing."

Sandoval is working with the new staff to get his legs more involved, and on Tuesday he certainly looked more like his old self. In that first at-bat he pulled a 95 mph pitch from German Marquez into right field at 109 mph. He flied out to deep left in the fourth, and then grounded out twice, including a double play. But those two grounders left the bat at 104.7 mph and 108.7. 

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

It's hard to tell what the Giants will do with Thursday's moves, especially since their need for 15 pitchers is still there, but it can't be a comfortable time for players who are slumping or pigeonholed, as Sandoval has been. He has not played third base yet, with Donovan Solano a preferred option as Evan Longoria's backup. He also has just five plate appearances against left-handed pitchers. 

"We have a lot of options to hit lefties, from Solano to (Wilmer) Flores to Darin Ruf to (Austin) Slater to (Mauricio) Dubon," Kapler said. "We've got a lot of guys who are really equipped to take down at-bats against lefties. It's a little bit thinner when we're facing a right-handed pitcher."

[RELATED: Nolan Arenado continues to crush Giants]

Kapler still believes Sandoval is one of his best late-game options against tough righties, and on Wednesday he should get three or four more at-bats to prove if his swing is coming back. He is the DH against hard-throwing righty Jon Gray, and Kapler sounded confident in the choice. 

"We kind of evaluate Pablo very similarly to the way we evaluated him when we came out of our secondary camp," Kapler said.