Gi­ants look for flex­i­bil­ity at var­i­ous po­si­tions

Kapler, staff pri­or­i­tized po­si­tional flex­i­bil­ity in spring train­ing, more so in sum­mer camp

Enterprise-Record (Chico) - - FRONT PAGE - By Kerry Crow­ley Bay Area News Group

SAN FRAN­CISCO » Dur­ing spring train­ing, San Fran­cisco Gi­ants man­ager Gabe Kapler and his coach­ing staff em­pha­sized po­si­tional ver­sa­til­ity as the club asked play­ers to ac­quaint them­selves with new po­si­tions in an ef­fort to in­crease their value.

The Gi­ants weren’t rein­vent­ing the wheel or at­tempt­ing to cre­ate a po­si­tion-less ros­ter, but they did want to max­i­mize the dif­fer­ent op­tions Kapler could ex­plore when build­ing out line­ups, bring­ing in subs and fo­cus­ing on ad­van­ta­geous matchups.

A phi­los­o­phy fo­cused on ver­sa­til­ity was clearly in place be­fore the coro­n­avirus pan­demic in­ter­rupted base­ball.

As the pan­demic rages on, adding new lay­ers of un­pre­dictabil­ity to ros­ter de­ci­sions and daily lineup choices, po­si­tional flex­i­bil­ity has taken on a new level of im­por­tance.

“The one thing to note is be­cause we’re go­ing to start with a 30-man ros­ter, which means we’re go­ing to have at least one more po­si­tion player and prob­a­bly more than that with a 26man ros­ter, it pays for peo­ple to ex­pand their ca­pa­bil­i­ties,” Kapler said.

Since the team re­turned to Or­a­cle Park for sum­mer work­outs, out­fielder Billy Hamil­ton and re­liever Jar­lín Gar­cía have been placed on the 10-day in­jured list for med­i­cal rea­sons, in­fielder Yolmer Sánchez has dealt with back tight­ness, out­fielder Hunter Pence has foot in­flam­ma­tion and first base­man Bran­don Belt is in a walk­ing boot due to a right heel flare-up.

The Gi­ants’ fran­chise player, Buster Posey, an­nounced Fri­day he will sit out the sea­son af­ter adopt­ing twin daugh­ters who were born pre­ma­turely last Fri­day and will re­main in the neona­tal in­ten­sive care unit.

Since the pan­demic be­gan, Kapler, pres­i­dent of base­ball op­er­a­tions Farhan Zaidi and gen­eral man­ager Scott Har­ris have at­tempted to es­tab­lish a fam­ily-first cul­ture where play­ers can feel com­fort­able let­ting the team know when they’re un­com­fort­able. Whether a player tests pos­i­tive for or is ex­posed to COVID-19, ex­presses con­cerns about MLB’s health and safety pro­to­cols, or deals with the types of nat­u­ral aches and pains as­so­ci­ated with play­ing the sport, the Gi­ants want their play­ers to be as adapt­able as pos­si­ble be­cause there’s no cer­tainty who will be avail­able on a daily ba­sis.

Since sum­mer work­outs be­gan last Fri­day, a num­ber of play­ers have con­tin­ued work­ing at po­si­tions they learned dur­ing spring train­ing while a hand­ful of oth­ers have be­gun train­ing at new spots on the di­a­mond.

“It’s re­ally more of a gen­eral phi­los­o­phy that we want as much flex­i­bil­ity to get peo­ple in the lineup, as much pos­si­bil­ity to have pinch-hit op­tions that can go into the game very eas­ily on de­fense and just be able to move our pieces around,” Kapler said.

With Belt’s sta­tus un­cer­tain, the Gi­ants asked out­fielder Joe McCarthy to pick up a first base­man’s mitt and pro­vide the team with a left-handed pla­toon op­tion at the po­si­tion. Kapler said McCarthy proved he could play the po­si­tion as a mi­nor lea­guer in the Rays or­ga­ni­za­tion and could in­crease his chances of mak­ing the Open­ing Day ros­ter if he can han­dle the job in the com­ing days.

With Hamil­ton out of the cur­rent mix in cen­ter, Mauri­cio Dubón, Mike Yas­trzem­ski, Joey Rickard and Austin Slater have all spent more time in the mid­dle of the out­field.

RANDY VAZQUEZ — BAY AREA NEWS GROUP, FILE

The San Fran­cisco Gi­ants’ Austin Slater makes a catch deep in the out­field dur­ing the sec­ond in­ning of his team’s Cac­tus League game against the Ari­zona Di­a­mond­backs at Scotts­dale Sta­dium in Scotts­dale, Ariz., on Feb. 24.

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