Giants

Why Gabe Kapler was so excited Giants signed his nemesis Wilmer Flores

Giants

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In Drew Smyly, Rob Brantly and Nick Vincent, the Giants have turned to players who impressed Gabe Kapler last season while playing in the Philadelphia Phillies organization. But with perhaps their biggest offensive addition of the offseason, they added a player Kapler knows in a much more painful way.

Wilmer Flores spent the first six seasons of his career with the New York Mets, where he served as a dependable infielder who made headlines for his walk-up song and a raw emotional on-field reaction to a reported trade that fell through in 2015. But as he talked of his new infielder Thursday, Kapler focused on a memory from the first game of a doubleheader in 2018, when Kapler was in his first year with the Phillies and Flores was in his final one with the Mets. 

"I have some experience with him, being in the other dugout," Kapler said. "A couple years ago, in 2018, he hit a walk-off home run in game one of a doubleheader off Victor Arano at Citi Field that broke our hearts. We've seen him do damage in big situations."

Flores has a long history of coming up clutch in big spots, and Kapler is counting on that in the late innings. But the Giants gave Flores the first multi-year deal of the Farhan Zaidi Era -- two years and $6.25 million guaranteed -- because they believe Flores has much more to offer. He will primarily play on the right side of the infield, and while team officials won't say it, it sure seems like the right-handed-hitting Flores is set to steal a few starts away from Brandon Belt at first base. 

 

"Independent of Brandon, he gives us a really good option at first base and at second base, as well," Kapler said. "We'll explore every possibility and every way to get him in the lineup."

On his first day in camp, Flores said he's willing to play anywhere. The Giants were appealing to him because of their history, but also because they came with a multi-year deal at a time when he had other big league offers. Flores played last season for the Arizona Diamondbacks after signing a one-year deal in late January. 

"Last year I went through free agency and it was a little tough," Flores said. "It was a relief to get a multi-year deal. Next year I'll know where I'm going, so it'll be better."

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Flores can settle in, meet new teammates and spend time with old friends -- Pablo Sandoval was an offseason workout partner -- because he should have more staying power than most on this roster. The Giants plan to play Flores, who slugged .615 against lefties last season, often, which means his clever walk-up song will become a staple at Oracle Park. Flores confirmed that he will still use the theme song from "Friends."

"I love that show," Flores said, smiling. "I have all the DVDs ... I still watch it before I go to bed."