The San Francisco Giants have been one of the biggest disappointments of 2022. That was expected. We couldn’t expect Brandon Crawford to have another career year at 35 years old. Brandon Belt, Darin Ruf (no longer with the team), and Mike Yastrzemski have all had down seasons. Kevin Gausman is gone, and while his replacement, Carlos Rodón was more than serviceable, injuries to guys like Anthony DeSclafani and Alex Wood forced the Giants to rely even harder on guys like Alex Cobb and Jakob Junis. That’s not a good omen for a team fresh off a 107-win campaign.
Giants’ manager Gabe Kapler was named NL Manager of the Year for that 2021 season, and while his team has failed to reach those same heights in 2022, he’s clearly not the issue. That was on full display during last night’s game against the Atlanta Braves.
After seven shutout innings from Cobb, Kapler brought in Zack Littell for the eighth. Littell faced five batters, and surrendered four consecutive baserunners to lead off the inning before finally getting Austin Riley to ground into a double play. By the time Littell had left, the Giants’ lead had shrunk from three runs to just one. A runner was still standing on third base, and Littell believed he could get Matt Olson out to hold that lead. Kapler didn’t give Littell that chance. Littell had allowed six runs in his last 4.1 innings pitched, and Kapler chose to yank the reliever before any more damage could have been dealt. Littell didn’t like that. As Littell handed Kapler the pearl, and trotted back toward the dugout, he had a few choice words for Kapler.
Just look at catcher Austin Wynns’ reaction. His eyes got big and wide while veering back and forth between Littell and Kapler almost like Wynns was trying to gauge Kapler’s reaction. Therefore, Littell’s exit tantrum must’ve been somewhat out of pocket. However, the best reaction came from Kapler himself. Kapler did stare at Littell for a moment after the short rant, but immediately went back to talking to his players on the field. Kapler didn’t chirp back at his pitcher. If anything, he was taken aback by what Littell said and immediately left it behind. I know you’d expect a professional manager to do something as minimal as that, but it’s still nice to see.
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Furthermore, Kapler’s reaction after the incident, once he got back to the dugout, was also perfect. He didn’t chew Littell out in front of the cameras. He knows better than to draw media attention with a shouting match. Instead, Kapler invites Littell into the tunnel for a heart-to-heart, and while we can’t assume the conversation was a series of apologies and hugs, we can assume that if their talk happened in the dugout in front of all Littell’s teammates and the cameras, the media would be blowing this whole situation out of proportion. You just know there’d be a Jomboy video on YouTube right now breaking down what was said, who hurt whose feelings, and how this makes everybody involved look. Kapler knows better. He doesn’t want to diminish Littell’s reputation, he just wants to hash out any ill will Littell might have after being pulled.
Nobody needed to see Littell get screamed at, but Littell did need to be brought down a peg. Pro move from Kapler. Underrated move. The Giants are in good hands.