Michael Papierski had never been to San Francisco before. Once, when he was on the Houston Astros’ taxi squad, he spent a series in Oakland.
“That’s close, right?” Papierski asked reporters in the Giants clubhouse.
Papierski arrived in the Bay Saturday and will start at catcher for the Giants in the second game of a three-game series with the Padres. Papierski, whom the Giants acquired from Houston in the Mauricio Dubón trade, spent the morning getting up to speed with his new teammates and coaches.
For his Major League debut, Papierski will hit in the nine-hole against Padres starter Joe Musgrove.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” the 26-year-old said.
While San Francisco is completely foreign to Papierski, the Giants organization is familiar — at least by a degree of separation. Papierski is from the Chicago area, but moved to Louisiana, where his wife is from. He went to LSU and has trained at Ryan Theriot’s facility near LSU’s campus since his freshman year in 2015.
Papierski considers Theriot, the 2012 World Series champion with the Giants, a “father figure.” The retired second baseman has guided Papierski through some struggles, Papierski said.
“Theriot’s my boy,” Papierski said. “He’s one of a kind. He’s one of my favorite people ever.”
During offseasons, Theriot helps Papierski with his swing — “he calls himself the hit doctor,” Papierski said — and guides him through lessons of life and baseball. Theriot’s been through it himself, so Papierski knows to take him seriously (even the retiree is goofing around).
Within all of Theriot’s stories is the message Papierski takes to heart: keep God first, family second and baseball next.
“So happy for him because I feel like it was me going through it yesterday,” Theriot told KNBR Saturday.
Theriot considers Papierski a part of his family. But he doesn’t love the “father figure” label.
“Oh, Jesus,” the 42-year-old Theriot said. “Big brother, not father. Come on.”
Theriot prides himself on giving insight back to baseball players from LSU and the Baton Rouge area — including Alex Bregman, Papierski’s former roommate. He always beams when one of his mentee makes it to The Show, but Papierski is a bit different.
Papierski has given Theriot’s son, an aspiring catcher, lessons. He’s attended Theriot’s daughter’s soccer games. Theriot said Papierski and his wife, Kali, treat Theriot’s children like they’re theirs.
Papierski’s shot at the bigs is coming after five years in the Astros organization. He’s starting Saturday because Giants Curt Casali has a mild concussion and Joey Bart has some back tightness (he’s available off the bench, Gabe Kapler said, but SF didn’t want to start him for a day game after his appearance last night).
Kapler said the reports on Papierski from Triple-A Sacramento have been strong and that the catcher’s prepared his whole life for this moment. Still, the catcher has gone just 1-for-10 in three games with the River Cats.
No matter the circumstances, Papierski will be making Theriot proud in his debut regardless.
“I always knew he was going to be successful,” Theriot said. “He’s one of those kids who can do whatever he wants. Just a born leader, and he’s going to be successful no matter what he does. Hopefully he can bring another championship to San Francisco.”
- To make room for Papierski on the 40-man roster, the Giants designated Luke Williams for assignment
- Mackenzie Gore will start the series finale against San Diego on Sunday.
- Brandon Belt was scratched from Saturday’s lineup with right knee discomfort. He didn’t play on Friday but was expected to be available and serve as SF’s designated hitter.