Steven Duggar was called safe on a steal, but third baseman Pablo Sandoval wasn’t having it. He raised his hands to cup his ears, the universal symbol for “Challenge it!” Never mind that there was no video to prove his point.
Darin Ruf wasn’t having it either when he took a called third strike from Logan Webb and kept looking back at catcher Tyler Heineman, who was also calling balls and strikes.
The Giants’ first intrasquad game of summer camp Saturday had its fun moments, but also a serious side.
Like managers throughout baseball, Gabe Kapler is trying to infuse competition and urgency among players who get their checks signed by the same people.
All in all, Kapler succeeded. The guys on one side of the field tried to beat the guys on the other. It looked like a ballgame.
“I thought the intensity level was strong,” Kapler said. “The players were really starting to get into it. We had an orange team and a black team out there. That raised the level of competition, to see two different uniforms.”
Mental skills coach Derin McMains did his part by creating one of those pump-the-crowd highlight videos that fans see on the scoreboard as the team takes the field.
In a real jolt of realism, Kapler had Joey Bart start the top of the seventh and final inning on second base to simulate how extra innings will begin under a temporary rule (one hopes) to get teams off the field faster amid the pandemic.
“I’m a little curious why they put Joey Bart out there and not a fast runner,” reliever Tyler Rogers said with a bit of a grin. “I’ve got to figure that out.”
Bart ran into an out at third on a fine pick and throw from first baseman Wilmer Flores on a Ruf chopper, but singles by Austin Slater and Joe McCarthy gave the black-jersey team a 4-3 walkoff win against the oranges. No bottom of the seventh was planned.
Rogers took the “loss” in a game that seemed real enough to him, even without fans.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I think it did have the same intensity. Once you get between the lines and it’s you versus another guy, you don’t realize the fans are there anyway.”
One moment served as a reminder this was practice. Hunter Pence made Kapler laugh after turning on an inside fastball from Webb and clobbering it into the left-field seats. Since Pence is not running due to a foot injury, he dropped his head and walked back to the dugout as if he had struck out.
The guess here is that Pence did not want to show up a teammate by celebrating.
Sandoval also homered, with a man aboard, on a hanging Andrew Triggs curveball. Catcher Chadwick Tromp also had a big scoring hit, a triple off the center field wall, which Mike Yastrzemski crashed into trying to make the catch. It jolted him momentarily, but he was OK.
Webb threw hard and was mostly effective in his two innings, and Triggs, the former Athletics starter dogged by injuries, looked healthy and competitive.
Alyssa Nakken coached first base for the orange team. Practice game or not, that was notable, though not to Kapler.
“I think we just see Alyssa as an especially effective coach,” he said. “She’s ingrained in our culture and so ingrained as a member of the coaching staff. She’s just making the players and staff members better. That’s how I see it when I see her out there.”
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- Giants’ Sadowski wins major league debut
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