For years and years the intense Belt Wars have raged on in San Francisco. At times one side of the war has dominated, while at other times the opposing side has.
But there’s a new general in town, and he’s making his military strategy very well known. Yes, new San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler is calling the war off. He’s bringing the troops home.
He’s supporting Brandon Belt, emphatically.
At Wednesday’s spring training festivities, Kapler spoke glowingly about Belt, the Giants first baseman for nearly the entire last decade.
At The Mercury News, Kerry Crowley notes that Kapler began his Wednesday media session by raving about Belt unprompted, before any media members had asked any questions. From Crowley’s article:
“He’s kind of an assassin in there in that he’s not passive at all, he’s very aggressive, but if a pitch doesn’t look like he can drive it, he’s just laying off,” Kapler said. “When something hangs or he gets a good pitch to hit, he’s really taking a good, healthy, aggressive pass.”
Now, I’ve never been in a Kapler media scrum, and he certainly seems to have his own unique and enthusiastic way of doing things, but I will say it is not particularly common for coaches to get straight to praise without fielding a question on the topic first.
At KNBR.com, Mark W. Sanchez quotes Kapler as drawing a firm line in the Belt Wars sand, seemingly demanding that opponents wave the white flag:
“He’s had well-above-average major league years,” Kapler said from Scottsdale Stadium. “And there have been times where he’s been elite at the plate and hasn’t gotten the credit that he deserves.”
Belt could face some competition at first this year. The Giants signed Wilmer Flores to a two-year deal, despite having plenty of middle infield options. That would signal some first base reps for the right-hander. Pablo Sandoval is back after a very strong offensive campaign in 2019, and Austin Slater is working out at all four infield spots.
But for now at least, Belt has Kapler firmly in his corner. As he should.
Just don’t expect Belt to lay down many bunts.