Giants thwart Trout, Team USA with exhibition pitching originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — As All-Stars, MVPs and future Hall of Famers made their way to Scottsdale Stadium on Wednesday afternoon, even Gabe Kapler couldn’t help but be a little excited. Yes, he’s the manager of a major league team, but he’s also a fan of the game.
And he didn’t hesitate when asked who he was excited to see up close as the Giants took on Team USA.
“(Mike) Trout will always be that guy,” Kapler said. “I think we see the greatest player ever, so I’m always excited to be a part of that, in spring training, regular season, just to get a taste of that. I have so much respect for his work ethic and who he is on and off the pitch.”
If Trout can stay healthy — and maybe finally break through in the playoffs — he could end up with the GOAT title. Kapler noted there’s a long way to go, but there are few flaws on the resume so far. He knows the game’s history has many contenders for the title, including two who played for the organization headed by Kapler, but Trout is the best he’s seen in his time in the game.
“I’m a mix of eye test, traditional numbers, and advanced numbers, and I think it pretty much checks all the boxes,” Kapler said in the afternoon. “So there’s the caveat, like, if he stays healthy and keeps playing for many more years, I think he’s going to have the tally stats. He’s going to have the WAR stats. He’s going to have the dominant part of it. I just think at the end of the day, it’s going to be hard to argue against him.
Trout was the star of the stars on Wednesday, with Giants minor leaguers stepping out and marveling as he took BP along with Mookie Betts and players’ families and friends gathered for photos and autographs. But once the game started, Team USA was reminded that even the best lineup can be stopped with an effective pitch.
The Giants held a lineup with Trout, Betts, Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Trea Turner and others for just four hits and one run. It was exposure, a tune-up for a well-stocked team that is one of the favorites in the World Baseball Classic, but it also provided valuable feedback for Giants pitchers. Two, in particular, came away looking ready for the regular season.
Anthony DeSclafani put on Betts and Trout to open first, then had Kyle Schwarber volley to the right, Goldschmidt to hail a 93 mph fastball and Arenado to volley left. DeSclafani allowed just one hit and retired one of three innings. Sean Manaea followed with three innings, allowing one run on three hits while striking out three.
“I think our whole pitching team can feel pretty good going through this formation a few times,” Kapler said. “You will never face a better formation.”
DeSclafani and Manaea both showed good speed to get the Giants to six. They were followed by no-hitter innings by Scott Alexander, John Brebbia and Mauricio Llovera. While the other dugout was filled with stars, the Giants pitchers said it was just another game once they were handed the ball.
“It was just spring training,” Manaea said with a shrug. “Once I got to the mound, it was just normal.”
It was about the only part of the day that was normal spring training. The Giants did their usual pre-game work, and then many stayed to chat with members of the American team and some of the coaches.
The staff is led by former Giant Mark DeRosa and includes Ken Griffey Jr., Andy Pettitte and former Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti. Even the press box looked different, with Juan Soto watching from a stand next to the broadcasters.
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“You’re around the cage and there’s Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Trout and some of the best players – I mean, they’re two of the best players of all time – and there were a lot of people around watching You. can feel that energy,” Kapler said. “Michael Young was here as an assistant batting coach – he was a great player and a close friend of mine. It was cool, and seeing JT Realmuto was awesome.
“Yeah, it was a fun day.
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