SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — Giants manager Gabe Kapler walked the perimeter of Oracle Park on Sunday to visualize how the team might cram 51 players onto one field for “Summer Camp.”
The squad is expected to hold its first practice on Friday with players reporting in the coming days.
2020 was expected to seem a little strange with no Bruce Bochy in the dugout for the first time in over a decade, but Kapler’s debut in San Francisco is guaranteed to be the most bizarre in the history of the franchise.
Major League Baseball sent a lengthy memo to clubs on how to navigate the new 60-game season in the middle of a pandemic. Among the rules: no splitting, no licking fingers, no high fives, daily temperature checks, and multiple COVID-19 tests per week.
The schedule will be formatted so teams don’t travel outside of their geographical region, there will be a universal designated hitter, and extra innings will start with a runner placed at second base.
“We’re taking this very seriously,” Kapler said. “We’re not just protecting our teammates, but we’re protecting the families of our teammates.”
Kapler expects there to be lots of mask wearing and socially distanced celebrations.
“This is uncharted waters. We have never seen this in professional sports,” Kapler said. “There’s going to be moments where we fail and we’ll try to do better next time.”
Players will have over three weeks to prepare for opening day on July 24th, and the Giants coaching staff plans to maximize “every nook and cranny” of Oracle Park. Batting cages are being installed beyond the centerfield wall, dining will happen outside, and guys will be spread out between both home and visitors locker rooms.
“We’re going to do two things: We’re going to stay safe and compete hard,” Kapler said
60 games is 37 percent of the typical 162 schedule, and Kapler admitted that he will manage closer to how he might in the postseason. “I think you monitor players a little differently,” he said. “We might be pushing guys.”
Despite the chaos of the re-start, Kapler is glad baseball is coming back no matter how weird it might look.
“It’s going to be nice for people to turn on baseball and feel some of those uplifting, positive feelings,” he said. “At the same time we should remember what it felt like to not have baseball because we’ll appreciate the game so much more.”