Editor's note: Check back next Monday, May 4, for Part 2 of our sitdown with Mauricio Dubon, where he discusses moving from Honduras to Sacramento and dominating high school baseball and soccer.
From the moment Mauricio Dubon made his Giants debut on Aug. 29 last season in a 5-3 loss to the San Diego Padres at Oracle Park, he quickly became a fan-favorite in San Francisco. Whether it be his story of moving from Honduras to Sacramento in high school and being a huge fan of the World Series-champion Giants, or the contagious joy he displays on the field, it’s easy to gravitate towards the 25-year-old.
And Dubon quickly has gravitated toward two Giants legends.
He still finds it a bit surreal he can seek advice and ask non-stop questions to people like Brandon Crawford, the same player he fawned at while in high school. Dubon has turned to Billy Hamilton for help in center field as he learns the position in his new utility role, but he also is listening to two former Giants MVPs: teammate Buster Posey and even Barry Bonds.
Dubon and Bonds have formed a relationship, and he asks questions about playing the outfield and, of course, always wants to know Bonds’ thoughts on hitting. When Bonds talks, nothing else matters to Dubon.
“I mean, he’s one of the greatest hitters ever,” Dubon said of Bonds when talking with NBC Sports Bay Area on a recent Zoom call. “Just kind of listen to him. Listen to him, ask questions and just listen.”
When it comes to Posey, Dubon wants to know all about the thinking side of the game. Posey is the eyes of the field behind the plate, a three-time champion and has a decade in the majors under his belt. Pretty much anything you can think of asking about the game, Posey has an answer.
“His mindset, it’s unreal so I ask him a lot of questions about this, that, hitting, approaches -- about a bunch of different stuff,” Dubon said.
Mauricio Dubon grew up cheering for Buster Posey. Now he's learning from him in the dugout at Dodger Stadium: pic.twitter.com/P2PIWwh5Vu— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) September 8, 2019
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The Giants traded pitchers Drew Pomeranz and Ray Black to the Milwaukee Brewers on July 31 last year in exchange for Dubon. He hit .279 with four homers in 28 games for San Francisco while spending time at second base as Crawford’s double-play partner, and even played a handful of games at shortstop as well. But with his speed, athleticism and strong arm, manager Gabe Kapler expects Dubon to be featured in more of a utility role to keep his bat in the lineup as much as possible.
In Kapler’s first spring taking over for Bruce Bochy, Dubon played shortstop, second base, third base and even center field. The moment president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi mentioned the option of learning center field and moving all around the diamond, Dubon was all-in.
“As long as I’m on the field, as long as I’m in the lineup, as long as I can contribute, I’m good to go,” Dubon said. “I know if I’m in the lineup we have a really good chance. As long as I’m in the lineup, I’m good.”
When you watch him play, it should come as no surprise that it’s the little things in baseball Dubon misses most right now while MLB has suspended its season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It’s not making diving plays, celebrating walk-off wins or even hitting home runs off Clayton Kershaw. No, it’s much simpler than that for Dubon, and it all goes back to that joy.
“I think for me, it’s just being on the field,” Dubon said. “Being with the guys, being on the field. Getting ready for something knowing that I’m playing against the best. Just getting ready before the game. Listening to music, putting my cleats on, putting my eye black on.
“Just getting ready for the game. That’s the biggest thing for me.”
The Giants were 13-16 in spring training when sports came to a crashing halt, however, records are far from what matter in the tune-up to the regular season. Dubon hit .345 with two homers and three doubles over 29 at-bats in the spring. He felt good about himself, and even better about this team.
Entering the Cactus League, it’s no secret the Giants were seen as underdogs this year. After three straight losing seasons, they’re still going through a bit of a rebuild but there was a buzz growing this spring. The players could feel it, making the postponed season that much of a tougher pill to swallow.
“Oh, we were really good,” Dubon said. “We felt really good. I mean, we were a team. I keep telling people, ‘When were the Giants the favorites to win a World Series? They were never favored in 2010, ’12 or ’14. So why don’t we have a chance, right?’ We have a pretty good team. We have guys that are hungry and guys that have experience.
“I thought we were gonna be really good, and right now with all this going on, this will give us a different perspective and we’re gonna be even better.”
No matter where Kapler pencils him in when the season begins, Dubon will be ready and better with the help of two Giants icons.