Why Four Giants rookies' most nervous moment came off field in 2019

Why Four Giants rookies' most nervous moment came off field in 2019

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After spending more than three years in Triple-A, Tyler Rogers had just a few hours last August to pack up his life and make the drive from Sacramento to Oracle Park. He cleaned out his locker, threw everything in a big River Cats bag and headed home, where his girlfriend, Jennifer, was waiting to help him move. At one point in a frantic packing process, Rogers looked over and saw Jennifer taking stuff out of his team-issued bag. 

"I was like, 'Get out of there! No!" he recalled this spring, laughing. 

Jennifer didn't know it, but her boyfriend was getting ready to propose. The engagement ring was in Rogers' locker when he finally was called up to the show, and he hid it deep in one of his cleats while packing up. As he prepared for the biggest moment of his career, Rogers knew he couldn't wait much longer to get down on one knee and say the most important words of his life.

"That's where I realized I needed to get this done now," he said. "It's hard to hide a ring when you're moving everything."

After 179 Triple-A appearances, Rogers finally made his big league debut on Aug. 27. Later that night, Jennifer posted 10 photos and videos on her Instagram page and wrote "I AM so happy I got to be here for you on this special day!" Two days later, Rogers got down on one knee at a rooftop bar across from the ballpark and asked Jennifer to marry him, becoming part of the coolest trend of the 2019 season.

Four Giants rookies made their big league debuts last season and then proposed to longtime girlfriends. Rogers was followed by Mauricio Dubon in October, Conner Menez on Christmas Eve and Logan Webb the first week of January. 

They all learned the same lesson. The nerves you feel digging into the box for the first time or preparing to throw your first big league pitch are nothing compared to the feeling in your stomach when you're waiting for the right moment to ask the love of your life to marry you.

"Oh, I was definitely more nervous for proposing. Definitely," Dubon said. "I've played baseball before. I've never asked that question before."

Rogers said he was more nervous to propose because he was doing it in front of both families. Menez felt "happy adrenaline" during his July debut against the Mets, but as he prepared to ask his girlfriend, Breanna, to marry him at a holiday light show in her hometown of Boise, Idaho, his heartbeat raced while he tried to remember a short speech he had written. Webb spent much of his big day walking around the Domaine Chandon winery in Napa Valley looking for the perfect spot to drop to one knee in front of his girlfriend, Sharidan, and both sets of parents, who knew what was coming. 

"She texted me and was like, 'Why are you acting so weird?' She had no clue," Webb said, smiling. "I thought for sure she knew. I was so nervous I could barely get the words out. I tried to say something before but I was way, way too nervous. I was trying to break the ice. I was trying to say something and finally, I was like, you know what, I'm getting on one knee. She was very shocked."

Like the other three, Webb is an elite athlete, and perhaps his training helped him as the nerves kicked in. Pitchers rely on deception, and Webb slyly tried to move the ring around in his pocket so Sharidan wouldn't notice it as they took pictures before the proposal. Menez had the ring in his jacket pocket and at one point Breanna put her hand on top of it when they were taking photos, but she didn't notice. Dubon, who showed his improvisational skills during a late-season audition at second base, had to think fast during his proposal.

Dubon and his girlfriend, Nancy, love Disney and make the two-and-a-half-hour drive to Disney World in Orlando just about every free weekend in the offseason. For years they had been planning a trip to France because Nancy is fluent in French and wanted to visit. The trip was supposed to happen in 2018, but Dubon injured his ACL and had to rehab. 

After a successful debut season, the couple decided to visit Paris, Rome, Venice and Vatican City. France was the first stop and Dubon carried the ring around for a couple of days as they prepared to visit Disneyland Paris. 

"All of 2019 I was thinking about how I was going to do it, and at the last minute I had to change plans," he said. "In Disney World in Orlando,you wear a bracelet and then take pictures, but in Disneyland in Paris they don't have that, so I had to improvise that part."

Dubon, who has known Nancy since he was 18, figured it out.

With the hardest part over, the four young Giants now will turn their attention to something three other teammates thought about for much of last season. Pablo Sandoval, Reyes Moronta and Dereck Rodriguez all got married in the offseason, and three of the four engaged Giants will say "I do" this November. 

"Rogers and Sam Selman and I were joking that it was the rookie starter pack," Menez said, laughing. "You get called up and you get engaged."

It actually makes a lot of sense. Minor leaguers can grind for years, dealing with constant pressure and uncertainty as they try to live out their professional dreams. A lot of that weight was lifted when the players debuted last year, and it certainly doesn't hurt to have a few weeks or months of big league pay in your bank account when you're shopping for a ring or planning a wedding with the person who was there for every difficult step. A couple of the engaged Giants joked that they've already learned the lesson that the price of any item or venue seems to skyrocket when you mention it's for a wedding. 

Webb and his fiancee are waiting until she finishes school in 2021 to hold their wedding. The other three will be planning as they play this season, and they're grateful to have fiancées who understand how difficult that can be for a player trying to break through in the big leagues. Dubon said Nancy is doing the majority of the planning for their Disney-themed wedding in Honduras. 

"I'm just going to go there and say yes," he said, laughing. "She's good with that stuff and I won't have time to do it. She understands that, and I'm pretty appreciative that she understands."

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Of the three getting married this November, Dubon has the firmest grip on a roster spot. Rogers was dominant in his month in the big leagues and Menez could join him in the competition for a bullpen job. Webb will have his innings restricted a bit, but he should spend most of his year in the rotation. 

This is a big season for all four engaged Giants. They are young and relatively unproven at the big league level, but all hope to be locked in as full-time big leaguers by the end of September. Regardless of how the season plays out, though, they know that the future is bright.

"You can look forward to the offseason even more," Menez said. "You enjoy it anyway, but you now know you're going to get married, too."

Nine unique MLB statistics from Giants, A's players that stand out


Nine unique MLB statistics from Giants, A's players that stand out

Former A's legend Rickey Henderson had a way of stealing bases that would land him in the MLB record books.

Giants icon Barry Bonds' ability to hit homers and draw walks would put him in the same rarefied air as the "Man of Steal."

Those two Bay Area baseball legends, along with several more familiar names would create a sense of baseball history nobody would be able to mimic, even over a long career.

Here are some statistics and unique numbers from Bay Area baseball players that landed in the record books and became a notable part of MLB history.


Gabe Kapler says Brandon Crawford created self in NBA video game during hiatus


Gabe Kapler says Brandon Crawford created self in NBA video game during hiatus

Gabe Kapler's first Spring Training as Giants manager was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the 44-year-old is using virtual methods to get some reps in with the start of the season indefinitely delayed.

Kapler told KNBR's "Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks" on Monday night that he is playing "MLB The Show 20," using the game to sharpen and hone his managerial instincts, simulating games in around five minutes while making "all the decisions" in each contest. Giants hitting coach Justin Viele, meanwhile, is using the game to study tendencies of opposing pitchers.

Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford also is visualizing success, albeit in another sport.

"I played one game, and Crawford was the star of the game," Kapler said. "So I took a picture of the screen, and ... I sent it over to Craw, and so Craw looked at it, and he sent a picture of him playing an NBA video game where he was one of the players and dropped 71 points and nine assists."

It's fair to assume that Crawford, a Pleasanton native and a lifelong Warriors fan, put himself on Golden State in whichever game he was playing (our money's on NBA 2K20). That wouldn't have been a record in a real Warriors game but not a franchise one, considering Wilt Chamberlain scored at least 72 points an astonishing five times, including his NBA-record 100-point game back when the Dubs played in Philadelphia.

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This, of course, leads to even more questions. Did Crawford's create-a-player have photorealistic hair? What position did he play? Were his in-game traits the same as -- or as close to it as possible -- in "MLB: The Show?" Was he still a UCLA alumnus in the game, or would he disappoint NBC Sports Bay Area's Brian Witt by not virtually representing the Bruins?

The NBA reportedly will hold an "NBA 2K20" tournament Friday night featuring player representatives for each time. Is it too late for the Warriors to choose Crawford?