SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — What made Giants fans happier, his swing or his mouth?
After launching his first spring training home run — in his first spring training at-bat — Joey Bart ingratiated himself to the Giants fan base by following his manager’s lead and not using the “D” word when referring to the hated rivals.
“Unfortunately, we lost to the bad guys, but we’ll be back after it,” Bart said after San Francisco’s 10-4 defeat to the Dodgers at Scottsdale Stadium on Saturday to begin the exhibition schedule.
Bart’s bat, though, already had done the most talking. He stepped toward a 2-1 fastball on the outer half of the plate in the seventh inning and didn’t pull off of it. Instead, he redirected it, slamming it the opposite way; his first swing of the season ended up beyond the right-field fence.
The Giants already have said they would like to see him get more seasoning at the minor league level before he debuts, especially after a season last year that included two hand fractures. That has not stopped a vocal fanbase from campaigning for Bart, wanting to see the future as soon as possible.
The 23-year-old said he has tried to avoid the social-media frenzy that surrounds him, preferring to keep his eyes narrow while saying, “That’s what I don’t want to notice.”
“It was a fun way to start,” said Bart, who finished last season at Double-A Richmond, figuring to start there or Triple-A Sacramento. “But got a lot more coming, got a lot to work on. It definitely showed in some areas out there today I’ve got some areas out there to work.”
A big focus of camp for Bart thus far has been pitch framing, catching the ball and subtly bringing it back into the strike zone. Whenever he comes up, they want him to be well-rounded.
“I caught some good ones, I thought I left a few out there as well,” Bart said. “… It’s one of those, ‘Heck yeahs!’ inside of you [when you steal a strike].”
This was Gabe Kapler’s first action managing a game after being fired from Philadelphia, after which he was not sure if he would get another chance.
“Just to wear a Giants uniform on the field for the first time, it’s a special moment for me in my career,” Kapler said.
Kapler on the three-error first inning: “We can handle the ball better than we did early in the game. Think all of us know that part of spring training is getting your feet wet both on defense and in the batters box. We have a lot of work to do.”
The lineup for Sunday’s game against Oakland in Mesa, which Andrew Suarez will start:
1. Mike Yastrzemski, CF
2. Wilmer Flores, 1B
3. Alex Dickerson, LF
4. Joe McCarthy, RF
5. Tyler Heineman, C
6. Yolmer Sanchez, 2B
7. Abiatel Avelino, SS
8. Jamie Westbrook, DH
9. Kean Wong, 3B