The San Francisco Giants were heading into the season with a new manager for the first time since 2007. Now Gabe Kapler isn't letting the league shutdown deter him from getting to know his roster.
Kapler is using MLB The Show to simulate the 2020 campaign and help with his decision-making once he's managing Giants games in real life, the skipper told Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports. The idea originated from Giants' co-hitting coach Justin Viele, who uses the video game to scout opposing pitchers.
"You can get through a game in about five minutes," Kapler, who plays in quick-manage mode, said. "It's just kind of going through each at-bat and making the decisions along the way. It's a good way to learn opposing bullpens and who is in them and how highly they're rated. That's another way we're using video games to stay in shape."
Kapler also said he's been staying in touch with his players and other members of the coaching staff through Zoom, a video meeting app. The entire coaching staff is currently reading and discussing "The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups" by Daniel Coyle.
"We're breaking into smaller groups as a staff," Kapler said, adding that those groups are talking about how to make the team's culture stronger during Zoom calls "as a result of reading that book."
As for players, Kapler said isolation "is just an opportunity to connect. I think when players are isolated and they're by themselves, a catch-up conversation can only help."
The Giants hired Kapler this offseason after he managed the Philadelphia Phillies for two campaigns. Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi previously worked in the same organization as Kapler while with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Kapler is succeeding Bruce Bochy, who led the club to three pennants and three World Series titles over a 13-year tenure.