Dubón striving to become super-utility man

February 27th, 2020

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- spent five hours breaking in his new outfield glove ahead of his Cactus League debut in center field on Wednesday.

There was only one problem: Once game time rolled around, his glove was nowhere to be found.

“I couldn’t find my glove,” Dubón said following the Giants’ 3-3 tie against the Brewers at Scottsdale Stadium. “I had to borrow one.”

After procuring a loaner glove from non-roster invitee Jamie Westbrook, Dubón was finally ready to take the field. He replaced Billy Hamilton in center field in the fifth inning, and stayed in to play the remainder of the game. It marked his first outfield appearance since 2016, when he played five games in center field during a brief stint in the Arizona Fall League.

A natural middle infielder, Dubón will be taking reps in center this spring as he looks to increase his versatility and potentially develop into a super-utility player for the Giants this season.

“I felt good,” Dubón said. “Hopefully I looked good out there. I feel really good. I know Oracle [Park] is different, but I think the more I play, the more I’ll get settled.”

Dubón, 25, didn’t face too many significant tests against the Brewers, who traded him to the Giants in exchange for relievers Drew Pomeranz and Ray Black at last year’s Trade Deadline. He raced to back up left fielder Chris Shaw and right fielder Bryce Johnson on fly balls to the corners and made a strong throw back to the infield after fielding a long double by Chad Spanberger in the eighth, though he missed the cutoff man because he threw the ball directly to second base.

“He looked like an athlete out there,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “Like he could think quickly on his feet. It was interesting to see him throw behind the runner. That's a play where we're going to get him to hit the cutoff man. We're going to be lined up to third base there, but it's just going to come with more reps and experience out there. Nothing but good came out of today for Dubón in center field.”

Baserunning B.O.S.S.
Dubón also flashed his impressive instincts on the basepaths in the seventh. After drawing a walk and advancing to second on a single by Steven Duggar, Dubón alertly stole third on Brewers catcher Mario Feliciano’s throw back to the pitcher. He subsequently scored on Abiatal Avelino’s RBI forceout to stake the Giants a 3-0 lead.

“I had it kind of mapped out,” Dubón said. “I knew if I got to second, I had a shot because [Feliciano] was lobbing the ball back.”

Dubón’s savvy steal should make him a prime candidate for the Giants’ daily baserunning award, which was born partly out of Kapler’s desire to foster a sense of healthy competition in camp. The winner from each game gets his headshot featured on a whiteboard that is prominently displayed near the entrance to the Giants’ clubhouse.

Shortstop and catching prospect should be contenders for Wednesday’s award as well. Crawford led off the game with a single to left field and scored from first base on an RBI double by to give the Giants a 1-0 lead in the first inning. He plans to check the board on Thursday morning to see if he becomes the first two-time recipient of the honor.

“I wouldn’t mind if Longo just hit a homer and I could jog around one of these times,” said Crawford, who added his first home run of the spring off left-hander Eric Lauer in the third. “But yeah, I’ll be looking tomorrow.”

Bart, meanwhile, hustled for a leadoff double in the ninth to put the go-ahead run in scoring position with no outs, though the Giants were unable to capitalize and came away with a tie after the Brewers rallied for three runs in the top half of the inning.

“We appreciate aggressive baserunning, aggressive play in general, particularly in Spring Training,” Kapler said. “We're testing the limitations of our baserunners. They're seeing what the defense gives them and taking advantage of it when they give them something.”

Up next
The battle for the fifth spot in the Giants' rotation will kick into gear on Thursday when right-handers and make their first appearances of the spring against the Mariners at Peoria Sports Complex at 12:05 p.m. PT. Beede will start for the Giants and oppose Seattle right-hander Taijuan Walker. Webb will enter after Beede and is expected to be followed by relievers Rico Garcia, Sam Coonrod, Jerry Blevins, Sam Selman and Dany Jimenez.