When Willie Mays arrived at Scottsdale Stadium last month, Mauricio Dubon walked over to say hello. Mays remembered Dubon from a meeting late last season, and he greeted him with, "It's the kid that smiles."
Dubon always has had an appreciation for playing the game and it shows every time he takes the field. He is the kid that smiles, and that got ramped up two years ago when baseball was taken away for the first time.
Dubon missed most of the 2018 season after tearing his ACL in May. He said he had a greater appreciation for his career when he returned, and he thinks fans will see that from players across the big leagues when the coronavirus pandemic hiatus ends.
"It's going to have a different vibe," Dubon said on the latest episode of The Giants Insider Podcast. "Players are going to be more appreciative knowing that, hey, one day this can be taken away. That's kind of what happened to me. I never take games for granted, but I was always -- not complaining, but I was always like, 'Oh, we're playing 11 a.m. games (in the minors).'
"And the next thing you know, I wish every game of the season was 11 a.m."
Dubon was Milwaukee's No. 10 prospect entering the 2018 season and got off to such a quick start that a promotion to the big leagues looked imminent. He hit .343 in his first 27 games with a slugging percentage of .574 and four homers.
Dubon had a 23-game hitting streak when he hurt his left knee during a rundown on May 5. His season was over. Dubon said he has been reminding family members during this current shutdown that he has had a similar experience. The Giants had an off day when MLB suspended spring training and players were soon told to head home indefinitely.
"I'm trying to emulate those feelings, everything is going to be fine," Dubon said. "Everything is going to work out. It's not going to stop. There's more to life than baseball, so we're just going to take it day to day."
For more from Dubon on what the last few weeks have been like, how he's communicating with teammates and coaches, his rookie season and learning to play the outfield, you can listen to The Giants Insider Podcast here or download it on iTunes here.