Gabe Kapler shares short message to Giants' spring training full squad

Alex Pavlovic

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Gabe Kapler has said repeatedly in recent weeks that he wants the Giants to be more prepared than their opponents, so it seemed likely that he would spend weeks working on the exact speech he would give when the full squad assembled for the first time on February 17.

But the first meeting was not a marathon. There was no dramatic speech, just a quick message from Kapler, one from Farhan Zaidi, some words from a couple of veterans, and then the Giants hit the field and began playing catch. 

"Players on Day 1, the thing they want to do the most is to get out on the field and compete," Kapler said. "So to squeeze everything in to Day 1 for the pageantry maybe doesn't make as much sense as to try to share those messages on a daily basis."

Kapler will have plenty of time to spread his beliefs. During his first day leading the full roster, he simply wanted the players to compete and to get used to some subtle changes. The Giants brought a machine out to throw sliders to hitters after they had taken a couple of rounds of batting practice, giving them a chance to hit breaking balls much sooner than they normally would.

Kapler said he was encouraged by how many players took advantage of the extra opportunity. 

"Those slider machines are not comfortable for players, particularly when they haven't seen a lot of pitches," Kapler said. "So to see the engagement and the buy-in was really cool. Our hitting coaches did a great job of making it a menu option, and then it was even cooler to see our players select the more difficult and challenging practice."

Kapler and the staff had a week to get pitchers and catchers used to some new ways of practicing and the emphasis on competition, but it was a bit different when the position players showed up. The bullpen is basically a wide-open competition and it's unclear who the fifth starter will be along with the backup catcher.

But the starting lineup is a bit more set, with veterans at catcher, first, short and third and roster options like Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence already in place. 

You could say there's far less competition on the position player side, but that's not how the Giants want their players viewing it. Evan Longoria, who played with Kapler in Tampa Bay, said it was good to see how much emphasis is being put on winning jobs this spring. Even the core veterans are being made to feel pushed a bit. 

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"There are a lot of jobs open, there's a lot of things that guys are going to be competing for in camp, which is great," Longoria said. "Hopefully we see some of that fire come out, friendly competition or real. It's not really friendly, you know. Guys are playing for their livelihood and it's a job, so I love seeing that competitive nature come out in guys.

"It was good to hear guys stand up and I think it's really good to get those things out there in the open from the beginning."

Gabe Kapler shares short message to Giants' spring training full squad originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area