Giants

Mark Melancon excited to face Giants for first time since Braves trade

Mark Melancon excited to face Giants for first time since Braves trade

ATLANTA -- As the Braves' relief pitchers finished their sprints in right field Friday afternoon, a pack of Giants relievers started a jog around the warning track. Mark Melancon walked over and met his former teammates, but the hugs lost a little steam as he made his way through. Eventually, Melancon was standing around with just Will Smith, catching up a few hours before they faced each other. 

"The first half (of the group) I knew all the guys," Melancon said, smiling. "The second half it was all new guys."

The Giants just about have a completely new bullpen since Melancon's last appearance. Melancon has a new situation, too. As the Giants limp to the finish, their former marquee free-agent addition will try to close out a National League East title with the Braves. 

Melancon, mostly a mid-innings man for the Giants this season, is the closer for one of the National League's powerhouses. He's perfect in 11 save opportunities in Atlanta. That may come as a surprise to fans who watched him for two and a half seasons in San Francisco. It does not at all seem out of place for Melancon. 

"That's where I think I'm best," he said of the ninth inning. "I knew that. That was easy for me to see."

Melancon never lost that confidence in San Francisco, even as an arm injury that popped up in his first week with the Giants robbed him of much of his old effectiveness. He had a 3.67 ERA with the Giants but totaled just 15 saves. 

The Giants got out of the final year-plus of a $62 million deal and acquiring two pitching prospects in the minutes before the trade deadline. Melancon ended up being the real winner in the deal. He has found himself closing for a team that can clinch the division Friday night. 

"I'm so impressed with these guys," he said of the Braves. "They're 22-year-olds acting like they're 35 as far as maturity level. It's really impressive."

[RELATED: Giants' Madison Bumgarner's road struggles continue ahead of free agency]

Melancon is excited about heading back to the postseason, although he credited his former team for never losing sight of that goal. He said he appreciated that the Giants never went full rebuild, and he looks back on his time in San Francisco fondly. 

"I had a great time. It's always about the people," he said. "It was a great two and a half years with great people ... that was our home for two and a half years and it was awesome."

Giants' Gabe Kapler shares his side of Dodgers assault controversy

Giants' Gabe Kapler shares his side of Dodgers assault controversy

Gabe Kapler knew the questions were coming Wednesday when he was announced as Giants manager.

During his time as Director of Player Development for the Dodgers, Kapler has been accused of mishandling assault allegations in 2015 against Dodgers minor league players. Kapler, who worked under Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi in LA, knew he was not the popular choice to succeed legendary skipper Bruce Bochy. The assault reporting controversy was something that doesn't sit well with a lot of people, and Kapler and Zaidi both answered numerous questions about the incidents during the 58-minute introductory press conference Wednesday.

Kapler was apologetic, owning up to mistakes he made. He noted any actions he made came from a good place and had the victims' best interest at heart. 

After the press conference, Kapler sat down in an exclusive one-on-one interview with NBC Sports Bay Area's Amy G where he discussed the assault reporting controversy, the mistakes he made and explained why there was no cover-up.

"One misconception that needs to be cleared up is that the information was shared immediately up the chain," Kapler told Amy G. " Also the information was shared within player development with the Los Angeles Dodgers. I think that's the most important thing. Usually, when there is a cover-up happens there's not a lot of communication about it. There's been plenty of emails, and phone conversations and in-person conversations to talk through some of those things."

Kapler then went on to discuss his handling of the situation, and the regrets he has in how it was handled, pointing to his own naivete when dealing with assault allegations.

"The thing I probably want to convey most is the biggest mistake that I made was naively believing that I could handle some of these situations by myself," Kapler told Amy G. "What I should have done is I should have reached out to experts in the field that might have been able to advise on how to handle these situations better. I feel a lot of remorse that -- I'm sorry that I wasn't better equipped to support the victims in these cases. Even though I acted with the best of intentions to try to support and help, I didn't execute on that well.

"I'm really disappointed in myself about that," Kapler continued. "But I also see this as an opportunity. A moment that can lead to a movement and better outcomes and I see this as a real opportunity to do things different the next time around and to figure out ways not just to protect victims of physical assault, not just to protect victims of sexual assault, but to support victims. To use this platform and educate players about how to be better when these situations come up. I take that responsibility very seriously, I know I have a lot to learn about it. I'll always do the best job that I can in getting the most information and counsel and help from the experts in the field."

Earlier this year, Kapler wrote a blog post explaining the incident but took a lot of criticism for not apologizing in the post. He apologized during his introductory press conference and was very candid about the missteps he and the Dodgers took.

"We've had a lot of opportunity to reflect on the situation," Kapler said. "And really challenge ourselves. We didn't do everything that we could possibly do to execute in a way we would have felt most proud of. Thinking back to that time, again, the way I would have been better would have been to give the information to experts in the field who could have actually taken over the process. I naively and in some cases arrogantly felt that I could help by mediating and being a facilitator and I was just in over my skis.

"I didn't have the ability to do that. I didn't have the knowledge to help and I didn't ask for it. That's the thing I regret the most."

Both Dodgers minor leaguers who were involved in the incidents were released by the club, but the incidents were not reported to the authorities because that's what the victims asked for, Kapler told Amy G.

[RELATED: How Kapler plans to handle veteran core of Giants' lineup]

His first day as Giants manager was unlike most first days managers encounter. Kapler knows he has a lot of work to do to earn the trust of the fan base. He also knows that doesn't happen overnight, but believes eventually, through day-in-day-out example, Giants fans will see the real Gabe Kapler. Someone who cares deeply about righting wrongs and putting people before players and the game.

"Who I am is someone who really cares about the well-being of others," Kapler said. "Who I am is someone who cares deeply about social issues in a community like San Francisco and a champion and an advocate for these issues. I can't build that trust in a one-on-one conversation, you have to build through action over time.

"I think I take action steps for the good of society and people every single day. That will get recognized ultimately."

Farhan Zaidi sees growth since he last considered Gabe Kapler as manager

Farhan Zaidi sees growth since he last considered Gabe Kapler as manager

SAN FRANCISCO -- New Giants manager Gabe Kapler was one of the people Farhan Zaidi spoke to the most when he left the A's to become the general manager of the Dodgers. Perhaps at that time, Zaidi thought he would soon hand Kapler a jersey, hat and the manager job. On Wednesday, nearly four years after the first time Zaidi introduced a new manager to the media, he finally got to do it with Kapler. 

Kapler was thought to be the favorite when the Dodgers started looking for Don Mattingly's replacement, but Dave Roberts ended up getting the job and since has earned an extension. Kapler, then the Dodgers' director of player development, finished as the runner-up. 

"In all candor, I think one of the questions we had was who was going to be the best leader at the time for that clubhouse," Zaidi said Wednesday. "On the one hand I think Doc (Roberts) has proven himself to be a very worthy choice and the right choice, but I think in that process we might have underestimated Gabe's leadership abilities in the clubhouse, and that's one reason we really dug into his experience in Philadelphia and sought to get references and talk to players and staff there."

The Giants dug deep, talking to Phillies players and members of the front office that let Kapler go in early October. One team official said Wednesday that a high-ranking Phillies executive told the Giants that 29 other teams would be lucky to have Kapler, but that the situation in Philadelphia had just run its course. 

"I have to say I was a little overwhelmed by the unsolicited texts and phone calls I got from players and staff in Philly supporting his candidacy here and talking about how well-respected and liked he was in the Philadelphia clubhouse," Zaidi said. "Obviously the team didn't live up to expectations and they felt they needed to make a change, but I think he's a much better candidate to lead a team and be a Major League manager now than he was when we evaluated him in Los Angeles and even when he began his managerial tenure in Philadelphia. 

"That's kind of been a theme of ours through this process, is having a growth mindset and getting better at the job, and I think he's done that and will continue to do it."

There was other due diligence to be done, of course. The Giants initially planned to talk to two internal candidates -- Ron Wotus and Hensley Meulens -- and eight-to-10 overall. By the end of October, they were down to Kapler, Houston's Joe Espada, Kansas City's Pedro Grifol and Tampa Bay's Matt Quatraro. By Monday, people throughout the organization felt it was Kapler vs. Espada, with Zaidi truly conflicted on which way to go. The conversations and interviews continued into the evening on Monday. 

[RELATED: How Kapler plans to handle core of Giants' veteran lineup]

Zaidi ultimately chose Kapler, setting up a situation where two men who could have been running the Dodgers four years ago now will try and loosen their stranglehold on the NL West, with Kapler going up against a former teammate. Kapler and Roberts played together in 1998 on the Jacksonville Suns, the Double-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. Kapler drove in 146 runs that season and Roberts scored 71 in just 69 games. 

"He was on base so often for me, he hit at the top of the lineup and I hit a couple of batters later," Kapler said on this week's Giants Insider Podcast. "But then we stayed in touch over the years. I was kind of wrestling with the disappointment of not getting the position as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers and my happiness and my feeling good for Dave Roberts.

"It is something that I can play around with (Zaidi) and kind of bust his chops on. But I know that those decisions are made collaboratively and I don't hold any one person responsible or accountable for them."