SCOTTSDALE — Gabe Kapler does not want to be the story. Perhaps for a last time this season concerning the Giants’ national anthem stances, he was Sunday.
After he knelt during “The Star-Spangled Banner” last season during all games after camp 1.0 — and after the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota — Kapler remained on his feet during the playing of the song for the Giants’ spring training opener on Sunday.
Kapler was careful with his words in explaining why his position had shifted, so here they are in full:
“Last summer, I thought that it was critical for us to engage in difficult conversations about things like systemic racism, social justice and related issues. At that time and still, I want to use my platform to help draw attention to those issues. And I did so at that time by kneeling. Those issues have not been fixed. We all know that they still exist today.
“However, our country and our dialogue has changed, and with that change, I think it’s important that my actions change, too. So I stood today because I believe the stories shouldn’t be about me and about what I’m doing during the anthem. They should be about the people in our country who are hurt by these systems, and about the work being done to bring about positive change. Different times will call for different actions, and now my actions are focused on work like Pipeline For Change, and the efforts by others to bring about the needed progress in our society. So summing it up: I want the stories to be written about the work being done to change what’s wrong, not about whether I’m kneeling or not. And I’m doing that by working to make changes to systems and institutions through my foundation.”
Kapler launched Pipeline for Change earlier this month, which is intended to “provide resources and remove obstacles for BIPOC, women, non-binary people and members of the LGBTQ+ community to participate in all aspects of collegiate and professional sports.”
The Giants manager said there were “a ton of conversations” about the anthem around the Giants clubhouse Sunday. Several Giants knelt last season, and none were seen kneeling Sunday. That could change; not all Giants were on the field.
“I am very confident that all of our players and all of our staff members feel 100 percent supported,” Kapler said over Zoom. “And that’s my main intention.”
A few other notes after the Giants’ 5-2 loss to the Angels at Scottsdale Stadium:
The announced attendance was 863, and a couple fans made themselves known. With a park so sparsely populated, it’s easy for the hecklers to shine through. When Darin Ruf was up, one fan continually barked.
“It was different,” Buster Posey said. “Even with like 10 percent capacity or so, you could hear everybody. So it was different for sure.”
The Giants finished with two hits in the seven innings: one by Posey, one by Wilmer Flores. Flores’ might have been caught, but Jo Adell fell in right field.
The most impressive Giants pitcher of the day was the same one frequently mentioned as turning heads: Sam Long.
The former Sacramento State star, who nearly quit baseball and was taking EMT classes, was throwing a fastball that touched 97 mph and a breaking ball that the stadium gun had at 79 mph. He struck out one and allowed one hit in his inning of work.
“I think the whole dugout was pretty enthused by the 96 and the 97 up there,” Kapler said of the lefty. “He had mentioned that I think he hit 97 once prior, but it certainly was better velocity than we saw in the pen.”
Austin Slater had just one at-bat and had a “tight” hamstring, Kapler said. He was removed as a precautionary measure.
Brandon Belt is “still not feeling great,” Kapler said. Belt has not been spotted taking reps in camp yet. Kapler has said the illness is not Covid-related.