Why Gabe Kapler feels Giants will return with same strong spring energy

Why Gabe Kapler feels Giants will return with same strong spring energy

It has been less than a month since Gabe Kapler addressed his team for the final time. The Giants were having an energetic camp, one in which new ideas flowed and veterans and young players were fully buying into what Kapler and a 13-coach staff were bringing.

Baseball reality would have hit them on March 26. The Giants were scheduled to start their season against the Dodgers and Diamondbacks on the road, with those two NL West frontrunners then coming to Oracle Park. Today, the Giants would have been playing their 11th game, and they would have already had a pretty good idea of how big of a talent gap still had to be made up. 

The Giants knew during camp that they would be outgunned, but Kapler was hoping to make incremental gains in other areas. He wanted his team to out-compete and out-prepare opponents and felt good about the progress. It's unclear when baseball will resume and what kind of Spring Training 2.0 teams will have if it does, but Kapler is confident that what the Giants were building will remain.

On an interview that aired on this week's Giants Insider Podcast, Kapler explained why he thinks the good vibes from a month of spring training will carry over whenever the Giants are allowed to compete again. 

"I don't think that that's going to be a problem," he said. "I don't think I'm alone in assuming that when we get to baseball, and we're going to get back to baseball, but when we get back there, there's going to be so much energy and excitement and appreciation for the game that I just can't imagine that that won't spill over onto the field."

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That was something the staff tried to instill over a month in Scottsdale. Kapler preferred to keep things positive, but above all the Giants were about competition. Veterans like Evan Longoria noted early on that there was a different feel to drills, which were faster-paced and often pitted players against one another. At the time the Giants went their separate ways, there were still plenty of jobs up for grabs. Kapler had not named a fifth starter or closer, and much of the bullpen and bench mix remained a competition.

"Our players embraced and supported and endorsed the new coaching style, the competition-driven coaching style, the challenging drills that we implemented," Kapler said. "And I can't think of a reason why, when we get back to baseball, that they wouldn't be craving more of that and that our coaches wouldn't be enthusiastic about implementing it."

[RELATED: MLB working on plan for May return]

On the podcast, Kapler discussed the day the Giants realize baseball was coming to a stop, how he's using a PlayStation game to get some managing work in, what the coaching staff is doing to try to stay sharp and how he's keeping in touch with his players. You can stream it here or download it on iTunes here.

Ex-Giants manager Dusty Baker reveals his challenge when MLB returns

Ex-Giants manager Dusty Baker reveals his challenge when MLB returns

Dusty Baker has been a part of professional baseball since 1967, and if and when the sport returns in 2020, he will have to kick a few habits he's probably been doing since he was drafted by the Atlanta Braves.

All players, managers and coaches will have to stop spitting, among other things.

In the name of health and safety during the age of the coronavirus pandemic, MLB sent a 67-page document to teams outlining what the players can no longer do.

For Baker, the former Giants manager and current Houston Astros skipper, he isn't sure how he's going to stop spitting.

“Now the biggest challenge is gonna be what my mom has been chastising me about my whole life — spitting,” Baker told The Athletic's Jayson Stark and Doug Glanville. “I am not kidding you. That’s the first thing my wife asked me. She goes, ‘How you gonna stop spitting?’ I don’t know.

“And my mom, I swear — she has been getting on me since I was 10 years old about spitting. Know what I mean? And I used to practice spitting. I’m the most accurate spitter in the world.”

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

If you've seen Baker anywhere near a baseball diamond, he always has a toothpick sticking out of his mouth. Those little pieces of wood have become synonymous with the 70-year-old.

Baker told Stark and Glanville that there was a time in his career where he called a toothpick company trying to get an endorsement. Yes, a toothpick endorsement.

“So they wrote me back,” Baker said. “Nice letter. And they said, ‘Thank you, Dusty. It’s a great idea. But we don’t need you to sell toothpicks.' ”

Only Dusty could try to get a toothpick endorsement.

[RELATED: Zac Efron's epic Dusty autograph story]

Whenever baseball returns, Baker will manage an Astros team coming off a turbulent offseason in which they were severely punished for a sign-stealing scandal. Former manager AJ Hinch was fired for his role, opening the door for Baker get the chance to lead his fifth MLB team to the playoffs.

If Baker gets back to the playoffs, he'll have to do it without his trusty toothpicks.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

Why Giants' Hunter Pence feels such 'deep connection' to organization

Why Giants' Hunter Pence feels such 'deep connection' to organization

Hunter Pence was part of two World Series-winning teams with the Giants in 2012 and 2014. He rejoined San Francisco's roster in February after an impressive comeback season in 2019 that included All-Star honors with the Texas Rangers.

The 37-year-old outfielder joined 95.7 The Game on Friday and explained why he decided to return to San Francisco.

“Obviously I feel a deep connection with the Giants organization,” Pence said. “The city, and these years, you never know which one is gonna be your last. I think everyone thought two years ago was my last year, and I’ve been fortunate that I made some adjustments.

“I want to be a part of passing on a lot of the things that I’ve learned to the young people, and I wanna come and transition back into the winning ways.”

[RELATED: Five Giants hitters who've had much more success when visiting Rockies]

Pence also noted that he’s appreciated getting a chance to work with the organization’s new leadership.

“It’s been really exciting to learn from Farhan, and the new metrics and I learned a lot of that with the Rangers. So I’m excited to share. I wanna pass all that on, I feel right at home, I’m in love with the city and the organization, and in love with everything with the Giants. It feels like home, it feels like family and it means a lot to be a Giant.”

Pence hopefully will be able to once again take the field in a Giants uniform soon.

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]