Heineman brothers get 1st big league clash

August 2nd, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO -- Tyler and have been on parallel tracks throughout their baseball careers, but on Saturday night, the brothers fulfilled a dream by finally crossing paths for the first time in the Majors. 

Tyler, a catcher for the Giants, and Scott, an outfielder for the Rangers, were both in the starting lineups for Saturday’s tilt at Oracle Park, marking their first official face-off in the big leagues. At the suggestion of Rangers manager Chris Woodward, the brothers met at home plate prior to the game to commemorate the big milestone for the Heineman family.

“It’s going to be special, for sure,” , 29, said during a pregame Zoom call with reporters on Saturday. “I’m very excited about it. I have some nerves, and I think it’s a good thing. I haven’t really let it soak in too much. It’s still the Rangers versus the Giants, and the most important thing is the Giants coming away with a 'W.' I’d be very happy with him going 0-for-4 with four lineouts to somewhere hard, so he gets some good Spring Training at-bats, but the Giants come up with the 'W.'”

Heineman partly got his wish after the Giants beat the Rangers, 7-3, though his brother enjoyed his own offensive highlight after homering off left-handed reliever Sam Selman in the ninth inning. In three games between the Majors and the Minors, Scott is 3-for-12 with three home runs with Tyler behind the plate. The siblings met on the field after the game and swapped jerseys at the request of their father, Steve.

"Obviously the 'W' is the most important thing," Tyler Heineman said afterward. "If he would have gotten a single, it would have been a little bit better for me. I don't think I'll be able to live that down."

Tyler, who is two years older than Scott, said he and his brother train together in Los Angeles during the offseason and text each other every day during the regular season, often sharing advice and lessons they learn while on the field. They don’t expect that fraternization to continue during this weekend’s series between the Giants and Rangers, though.

“We are each other’s best friends,” Scott Heineman said during a Zoom call with Rangers reporters on Friday. “Obviously playing against each other now, he’s the enemy if you want to call him that. We are out here to win. He’s not my brother when he’s out on the field. We are each other’s best friends, we always like to jaw back and forth, keep it competitive, keep it fun. It’s going to be really exciting to just see him on the field.”

Tyler Heineman broke into the Majors with the Marlins in 2019 before signing a Minor League deal with the Giants this offseason. With Buster Posey electing not to play this year, Heineman has emerged as San Francisco’s primary catcher, starting six of its first nine games. Scott Heineman appeared in 25 games with the Rangers last season and earned a spot on his first Opening Day roster this year as a backup outfielder.

“It’s pretty special to have somebody that’s so close in age and at the same point in his career as you are,” Tyler Heineman said. “Both striving to kind of break into the big leagues and stay.”

Giants not losing faith in Pence

, who was not in the starting lineup against Rangers right-hander Jordan Lyles on Saturday, remains mired in an 0-for-23 start to the season, but manager Gabe Kapler said the Giants remain confident that the 37-year-old veteran will turn the corner and break out of his early slump.

Pence, who was signed to give the Giants another big right-handed bat against lefties, batted cleanup against Texas southpaw Mike Minor on Friday and finished 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, though he also produced a hard-hit groundout in the first inning that came off his bat at 104.5 mph.

“Hunter is swinging the bat better,” Kapler said following the game. “He’s making hard contact. We have no concern in case that question comes up. He’s a stud. He hit last year. He’s hit lefties his whole career. We just don’t have any doubt about it. We look forward to seeing him back in the lineup doing damage.”

Hitting coach Donnie Ecker said Friday that the Giants aren’t panicking about Pence’s slow start and noted that he’s working diligently to find the All-Star form he enjoyed with the Rangers in 2019, when he batted .297 with a .910 OPS and 18 home runs over 83 games.

“There’s nobody that works harder than H.P.,” Ecker said. “He really sets the temperature for how we train off machines, how we face spin, how we face velo. There’s never a lever to pull on when it comes to his work ethic.”