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Notes: Kapler welcomes 'group environment'

Hamilton reminisces on facing Samardzija; injury updates
@mi_guardado
February 17, 2020

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The first full-squad workout of Spring Training is traditionally an opportunity for a manager to finally assemble his team under the same roof and address his entire roster of players, outlining expectations and laying out his vision for the season ahead. At 9 a.m. Monday morning, the

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The first full-squad workout of Spring Training is traditionally an opportunity for a manager to finally assemble his team under the same roof and address his entire roster of players, outlining expectations and laying out his vision for the season ahead.

At 9 a.m. Monday morning, the Giants filed up to the third-floor lounge in their new facility at Scottsdale Stadium to hear new manager Gabe Kapler’s message to the team.

Kapler aimed for brevity. He experienced plenty of loquacious Spring Training speeches as a player and was never a huge fan of the pageantry of it all. He remembers simply wanting to get to the batting cages as quickly as possible and fully immerse himself back into baseball.

So he kept his remarks “very short and sweet,” eventually ceding the floor to the club’s veterans, who also took turns addressing the 72 players in the room during the 35-minute meeting.

“We were lucky enough to have a couple of players step up and address the group,” Kapler said. “I think that was a really important part of the process because in a lot of ways this is a group environment. Obviously, that's going to include the voices of our players. It was really, really cool to see those guys step up and share what was on their minds as well.”

Third baseman Evan Longoria said “unity” emerged as a big theme of the meeting, particularly because of the amount of turnover the organization experienced this offseason.

“There's a real willingness to work, a real willingness to be open to new ideas,” Longoria said. “That was kind of the message. We need to be open to ideas, but work towards coming together as a group and learning the new people in the room as soon as [we] can.”

Longoria played with Kapler on the Rays in 2009-10 and said he expressed support for his former teammate when president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi sought feedback from players during the club’s managerial search.

“I'm sure that he can give the rah-rah first day speech if he had to, but I don't think that's him,” Longoria said. “I think he wants to strike people as a genuine person and not just somebody that wrote something down and is trying to read what he wrote to motivate guys, I think he speaks from the heart quite a bit. That's what it felt like. He's happy to be here. He's excited about the possibility. We've got a lot of work to do.”

‘The worst swing in baseball’
Speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton, who is in camp as a non-roster invitee, reported to Scottsdale Stadium for his first official workout with the Giants on Monday and shared an amusing moment with right-hander Jeff Samardzija.

In 2014, Hamilton came up to face Samardzija, then with the Cubs, and worked a 3-2 count before getting fooled so badly on a 91-mph fastball that he resorted to a cringe-inducing hack.

“I might have had the worst swing in baseball off of Samardzija,” Hamilton said. “I just dropped the bat. The ball was already in the mitt. I didn’t want to go down with a backward K, so I just tried to throw the bat down. But it was funny. They had it on ESPN for like the next three or four days.”

Injury updates
• Left-hander Tyler Anderson reached a significant milestone on Monday, throwing his first bullpen session since undergoing left knee surgery in June. The Giants initially thought Anderson would open the year on the injured list, but he’s ahead of schedule and could be ready to pitch in games by the end of March.

• It was also a big day for Reyes Moronta, who played catch Monday for the first time since undergoing right shoulder surgery in September. Moronta has a long road ahead of him and is expected to miss most of the season while rehabbing.

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.