Gi­ants be­gin ‘bub­ble’ in lo­cal ho­tel

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - SPORTS - By John Shea John Shea cov­ers the Gi­ants for The San Fran­cisco Chronicle. Email: jshea@sfchron­i­ Twit­ter: @JohnSheaHe­y

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.”

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