Giants

Why it 'was tough' for Madison Bumgarner to leave Giants' fan base

Why it 'was tough' for Madison Bumgarner to leave Giants' fan base

This will not come as a shock, but the man who uses "Fire on the Mountain" as his walk-up song, fires snot rockets between pitches, and spends his free time hunting and riding horses, can be hard to reach in the offseason. 

It's one of the many things Madison Bumgarner's teammates joked about when he was a Giant. He was often impossible to get on the phone between the time that final pitch was thrown and the day pitchers and catchers reported to Scottsdale Stadium. The cell service in the hills of North Carolina isn't all that helpful, but Bumgarner is a man of few words, anyway. 

Over the last couple of weeks, longtime friends and former teammates have found it harder than ever to get answers, but Bumgarner did have to keep his phone closer than normal. His agent had updates to give, after all. 

"I was on the phone more than I typically would like to be," Bumgarner said Tuesday as he was introduced in Phoenix. "It was exciting. It was a lot going on. I'm thankful to be here and I'm thankful to be a Diamondback."

That last part will take some getting used to, but the Giants and their fans will get a crash course. They visit Chase Field on their first road trip of 2020 and host the Diamondbacks on their first homestand. Barring an injury, Bumgarner will start against the Giants on March 31 in Phoenix

That means matchups with Buster Posey, one of his closest friends and the man who knows his style better than anyone on earth. It means he might face Brandon Crawford or Brandon Belt (although the Giants figure to platoon a lot more next season). Bumgarner said he has talked to a few former teammates since agreeing to join a rival, but the conversations were "super quick."

"We haven't really gotten into that yet," he said, smiling. "But I'm sure we will."

The current Giants and Bumgarner will surely have fun with it. It was always a big deal when Bumgarner threw live BP sessions during spring training, with trash talk flying back and forth around the cage between grunts from a pitcher clearly giving a little extra when someone like Posey stepped into the box. 

[RELATED: Giants thank MadBum after signing is official

The future matchups may be tougher to swallow for some fans, and Bumgarner addressed that part, too. On his first day as a Diamondback, it was clear that Bumgarner was thrilled with his new home and happy to have a new challenge. He wants to compete, and the Diamondbacks are better-equipped than the Giants to do that in 2020. But he also knows what he left behind. 

"It's tough. The fans in that city mean so much to me," Bumgarner said. "I mean, shoot, it's been 10 years there and we won three world championships and have been through a lot together. They've always been as good as they could possibly be to me and I'll never forget that. I'll always be thankful for it. That part of it was tough, but coming here, so far, this place has exceeded all my expectations, and like I said, I'm really excited about it."

Giants' Gabe Kapler challenged GM Scott Harris to play 'MLB The Show'

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AP

Giants' Gabe Kapler challenged GM Scott Harris to play 'MLB The Show'

Preparations for the 2020 MLB season have taken some creative forms with games pushed back by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Giants manager Gabe Kapler told KNBR's "Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks" earlier this week he was staying sharp by playing "MLB The Show 20." Kapler's apparently so hooked on Sony's signature baseball simulation that he has tried recruiting some of San Francisco's front office to join him.

The pitch didn't work on first-year Giants general manager Scott Harris.

"All I know is that Gabe challenged me to a game the other day," Harris told "The Murph & Mac Show" on Thursday morning. "He told me to go buy a [PlayStation 4] and get the game, and he wanted to battle-test some new in-game strategies. And I told him that the peak of my video-game career was 'Mario Kart' on [the Nintendo 64], so I was woefully unqualified to play 'The Show.' "

Harris confessed he wasn't much of a gamer growing up, as his parents didn't allow video games in their household. That led to him getting "absolutely smoked" when he would play video games with his friends, but not to him making up for lost time as an adult.

The No. 2 in the Giants' front office is all in favor of San Francisco's players and coaches taking up "The Show." Harris said he was happy with how people throughout the organization are navigating "uncharted territory."

"I think there's a lot of stuff that we can be doing right now," Harris said. "We're investing in a lot of systems in some of the infrastructure that we're building here with the Giants. We're finding some of the developmental processes and some of the evaluative processes are hopefully gonna lay the groundwork for future trades, or signings or draft picks."

[RELATED: Giants release several veterans, including reliever Blevins]

Harris is getting used to his and the Giants' new normal with play suspended. It could be a while longer before the season begins, after MLB and the players association agreed they wouldn't play until fans attending games don't pose a health risk.

The Giants' front office is laying the groundwork for the season whenever it does start. So are the players and coaches, and that apparently includes a lot of "The Show."

"I never really thought I'd work in a world where video games are actually a part of preparing yourself for a season," he said, "but everyone's staying creative and productive in their own ways."

Zac Efron reveals epic Dusty Baker autograph story as young Giants fan

Zac Efron reveals epic Dusty Baker autograph story as young Giants fan

When he was the Giants' manager, Dusty Baker might not have realized it at the time, but he was signing a ball for someone who would one day become one of the most well-known actors in Hollywood.

All he knew was a young kid with bleached hair wanted his autograph. That fan was Zac Efron.

Efron, a longtime Giants fan, recently told a story about his encounter with Baker on an episode of "Hot Ones."

Without skipping a beat, Efron talked about a special baseball he has that was signed by the former skipper. But there was a fun story behind it. 

"He drove by, and he was on a motorcycle, so he didn't have a window he could roll up," Efron said. "I ran up to him with a baseball, and I was like 'Will you sign this?' I had a blue pen and the sweet spot of a brand-new ball, and I showed it to him, and Dusty was like 'Ah, I can't right now, I gotta go to church.'"

Efron said after hearing that response, he assumed that just meant Baker didn't have time to sign the ball, even though he said he would be back in 30 minutes.

Baker left. Efron was sure the three-time Manager of the Year wouldn't return, but Baker and his motorcycle did 45 minutes later.

"I was like, 'No way!'" Efron recalled. "And he literally pointed right at me, and was like, 'Come over here.'"

The "High School Musical" star got his autograph. It meant a lot to him that Baker made the return trip to give him that signature. And I'm sure the motorcycle was a nice extra touch. 

[RELATED: Kruk and Kuip recall legendary Kershaw-MadBum battles]

"It was really cool," Efron described. 

Baker was the Giants' manager for a decade from 1993-02 and finished with an 840-715 record. He's now managing the Houston Astros.