SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Gabe Kapler’s bright orange shoes stood out in a room decorated with blackboards, a black standing work desk on which sat a dark laptop and speakers, gray interior wall paint, black furniture and a dark large screen.
Kapler’s manager’s office at spring training will take some time to get accustomed to, as with everything for the first-year skipper of the San Francisco Giants. But so much, on the day the Giants reported to spring training, was new around the facility on Tuesday.
Kapler took over from three-time World Series winner Bruce Bochy, and the Giants opened their new three-story spring training facility at Scottsdale Stadium, their longtime spring home. While the playing field and seating areas remain largely unchanged, the building behind the first-base seats includes a new clubhouse, coaches offices, a recreation room, weight room, balconies with views of the practice and main fields plus a large event space.
“We tried to create unique spaces that were not baseball spaces that players would go to or coaches would go to to have meetings,” said Jon Knorpp, the Giants’ senior managing director, who spearheaded the renovation.
Construction workers were still putting some finishing touches on the project that cost the city of Scottsdale $50.6 million, with the Giants also playing part of the cost.
“There was a lot of concern that we wouldn't get through the finish line, but we did. The building looks great, and as a result, people are walking in here excited and smiling,” Kapler said.
The new look fits with how Kapler wants to manage, with collaboration from staff, plenty of conversations from an open-door policy for his office, large meeting spaces and a communal feel.
“Our coaches room has medical and strength and conditioning in the locker room, so everybody’s together,” Kapler said. “We’ve actually spaced out the lockers so that we do begin to collaborate and have more open discussions instead of having a medial discussion over here, a strength and conditioning discussion over here and a coaching discussion over here. We’re actually having those conversations together because they all impact one another.”
A closed office door means Kapler is talking to a player or in need of a private conversation.
“Everything will be more intertwined, and that’s by design,” Kapler said. “We want to bring departments together and we want to solve problems collectively. And then we can take advantage of a very diverse group of thinkers.”
As for the roster, Kapler is encouraging competition for some spots in spring training.
“We want to give everybody in that clubhouse the opportunity to make an impression,” he said.
Starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija is locked in as one of the members of the Giants’ rotation. He spent time with Kapler in the offseason and said Kapler invited him to work out in the offseason.
By then Samardzija had already learned that Kapler is more than just a fitness enthusiast, he is a Crossfit champion.
“I respectfully declined, every time,” Samardzija said with a smile. “He’s an intense guy, but not overly intense where it’s exhausting, to where you want to avoid the person. He just comes from a point of wanting the players to like him and be a players manager.
“All of that intensity and energy to me just comes across as going in the right direction for the right seasons,” Samardzija added.