Giants begin ‘bubble’ in local hotel
The 2020 baseball season has been so different, so bizarre, so unlike any other that the thought of everyone on a team checking into one hotel for the final days — even when the final games are at home — seems downright ordinary.
“You just chalk it up to 2020 — hashtag 2020, whatever,” Giants designated hitter and player rep Austin Slater said.
Major League Baseball ordered all contenders to quarantine in hotels for the final week leading to the playoffs, and checkin for the Giants to enter their bubble was Wednesday.
For some who have lived in the hotel all season, it’s business as usual. For others who have apartments or houses in the area, it’s a bit odd but considered necessary during the coronavirus pandemic for a better chance at an uninterrupted postseason.
“I think this whole concept of the playoff bubble had been brewing for a while,” Slater said. “It wasn’t something that caught us off guard.”
The Giants’ season will determine how long they’re at the hotel. If they miss the playoffs, they can go home after Sunday’s game. If they make the playoffs, they’d stay at the hotel until it’s time to travel to the host team for the bestofthree first round, which begins next Wednesday in the National League.
Giants traveling secretary Abe Silvestri is orchestrating the venture, and Slater said the hotel is for Tier 1 and 2 personnel. Tier 1 includes players, coaches, trainers, etc. Tier 2 is “everyone who helps run the show.”
Pitcher Drew Smyly was living in Lafayette until recently relocating to the hotel, which is closer to Oracle Park, and he compares the experience to staying in a team hotel on the road.
“You can’t really leave,” Smyly said. “It’s just hotel to the stadium and back. There’s no real leisure time or free time.” Not that he’s complaining. “It’s exciting,” Smyly said. “We’re all in there for a team. We’re here for one goal. Everybody feels what all this is for. It’s coming down to the last week of the season, and we’re right there. We’re all anticipating an exciting finish to the season.”
Slater added, “It goes to show the resilience of our guys to stay focused. It’s something we use to motivate us and keep our eye on the prize.”
For outfielder Alex Dickerson, quarantining at a local hotel will give him time to rest. He missed the two weekend games in Oakland to be with his wife, who gave birth to the couple’s first child Sunday in La Jolla (San Diego County).
Technically, Dickerson’s wife and child could have joined him in the Giants’ bubble because families are allowed to accompany players so long as they had been quarantining. It didn’t take long for the Dickersons to decide against it.
“Yeah, that was going to be too much of a hassle to get them all way up here in San Francisco,” Dickerson said. “It’s so much easier to just have me here focused on baseball while she’s down there. Her mom is helping her out. That way, they can focus on Levi for right now, and I’ll be back when it’s all said and done.”
The workouts at the Giants’ alternate site in Sacramento were to end Wednesday, and some of those players were invited into the bubble so they’d be available to the team if necessary.
Manager Gabe Kapler sees gathering at the hotel a routine undertaking, saying, “Everybody’s taking a minimalistic approach to this so far this season. We’re not packing heavy. I don’t see a whole lot of additional challenges there.”
The bubble’s purpose is to lessen the chances of contracting the virus in the season’s final week and into the postseason, in which teams will play at neutral sites in the Division Series and League Championship Series and continue quarantining at team hotels.
National League playoff teams will play in Houston and Arlington, Texas, and American League teams will play in Los Angeles and San Diego. The World Series is in Arlington.
“I certainly understand the protective nature of taking a step like this,” Kapler said. “We want to continue to raise the bar for ourselves. Just taking every measure necessary. If we can do more things to give us a better chance to stay healthy, I don’t see why we wouldn’t do those things.”