On today’s Locked On Giants Podcast, host Ben Kaspick talks about yesterday’s historic game for the San Francisco Giants. This game was significant enough already, being the Giants’ first non-instrasquad game in a major league stadium since last September, but something else entirely ended up stealing the show.
Manager Gabe Kapler, two staff members, and several Giants players, including their only African American player Jaylin Davis, knelt for the national anthem. Kapler became the first manager of any major North American sport to kneel for the anthem, a peaceful protest against police brutality and discrimination against Black Americans. Kapler and the Giants had conversations with other teams around the league about how to approach the issue in a way that promoted inclusiveness and unity instead of divisiveness. Giants players were invited to have open conversations about these issues and were encouraged to speak their minds and do what they thought was best. They were encouraged to listen to their teammates and support their decisions. The Giants’ peaceful protest caught national attention and was retweeted with a supportive message by Major League Baseball’s official Twitter account, which is significant. Beyond the historic protest, the Giants also made history when Alyssa Nakken, the first female coach in MLB history, coached first base during the game. It was a proud and special moment for Nakken, who will hopefully be the first of many female coaches in the game.
Moving onto the game itself, the Giants went with an almost exclusively right-handed lineup against lefty starter Sean Manaea, and they were tough on him from the first inning on. Batting in the leadoff spot, Austin Slater, who has been above average against lefties but below average against righties in his career, had three hits and drove in five runs. The Giants’ use of platoons figures to give them an edge that they’ve lacked in recent seasons.
Prior to the game, the Giants announced that Evan Longoria and Brandon Belt will start the season on the injured list. In their place, Wilmer Flores started at third base and Pablo Sandoval was at first base last night. It seems likely that, when the season gets going, Darin Ruf may be at first base against lefties with Hunter Pence as the designated hitter.
Several questions remain about how the Giants will finalize their 30-man roster. We still don’t know which players will make the team as catchers, and it could go a number of different ways. Significantly, Chadwick Tromp got the start last night against the lefty Manaea, and he had two hits. Tromp may very well be on the Giants’ roster, and be the starter against left-handed pitchers.