SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Giants’ lone link to the 2017 Astros — a loose link at that — is pleading ignorance.
Jandel Gustave, who pitched in six games that season before Tommy John surgery, said he learned of the scandal when the rest of the world did. The Astros, the MLB found, used cameras and monitors and trash cans to steal signs and notify hitters what pitch was coming.
“I was only in for six games,” said Gustave, who only pitched in April and said he hadn’t heard whispers about the sign-stealing. “What was going on the whole year, I don’t know.”
The 27-year-old came up with the organization, with whom he had been with since 2010, but said he hasn’t talked with the Astros caught in the crosshairs, suddenly the villains of the league. After Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve offered brief public apologies without taking questions Thursday, the anger around the league was cranked up a few notches.
Gustave does have a World Series ring, a fact he smiled at. He said the jewelry does not feel tainted.
When asked about the loud backlash around MLB, Gustave shrugged, “It’s not my concern.”
Austin Slater took ground balls at shortstop Friday, which, apart from catcher and pitcher, was the lone position he didn’t see time at last year with Triple-A Sacramento.
The Giants are giving him a look at all four infield spots — and in the outfield, where he predominantly played in the majors last year — as they find ways to pencil him in.
“Giving him the best possible chance to get into the lineup, so kind of no-holds barred for him. He can move around the diamond and get ground balls at every location and also the outfield,” Gabe Kapler said at Scottsdale Park.
With the advancements in positioning data and a better accuracy of predicting where balls will land, it makes it a bit easier to put a slower-footed Slater up the middle.
“I think maybe the range, particularly on the right side of the diamond, isn’t quite as necessary as it once was in traditional positioning,” Kapler said. “We still want to get infielders with the best possible range and the ability to make throws from any position.”
The Giants are working with Joey Bart on “showing” the ball to make him a better receiver.
Kapler shouted out the work of catching coach Craig Albernaz and bullpen catchers Brant Whiting, Taira Uematsu and Eli Whiteside, who are teaching Bart to face the mitt upward when he catches pitches. The glove appears smaller to the umpire, and the chances fringe pitches get called strikes increases.
“When you get up underneath the ball, it’s kind of flatter and it looks more like a strike,” Kapler said.