By Morris Phillips
Austin Slater knows he’ll be around, he just doesn’t know what his role will be. Given that, Monday’s exhibition in Oakland was about defining things.
Slater had three hits, two doubles and five RBI in the Giants 6-2 Summer Camp win over the A’s. The utilityman was penciled into manager Gabe Kapler’s right-handed dominant lineup as the leadoff guy with pop. Given his success, and Kapler’s preference for platoons, don’t be surprised if Slater assumes the role again this weekend against the Dodgers, for the season-opening series in which the Giants expect to see lefty starters in three of the four games.
During spring and summer training, Slater seen time defensively at every position on the diamond except pitcher and catcher. The 27-year old carries a collection of gloves, and doesn’t seem rattled by all the uncertainty needed as a reserve. Kapler wasn’t around, but Slater’s sneaky good 2019 season helps his cause as well.
“I think guys are able to round out their game and not be so narrowed in on one specific position,” Slater said of his expansive skill set. “It helps you understand the game. It helps the team.”
Slater, singled in the first and doubled in the second off A’s starter Sean Manaea. The double came with bases loaded and cleared the bases. Then in the seventh, Slater took advantage of lefty reliever Jake Diekman with a two-run double.
Nine Giants pitchers, starting with Kevin Gausman, saw an inning of work, and none of the nine gave up more than one hit. Tyler Anderson surrendered Stephen Piscotty’s home run in the second, and 26-year Caleb Baragar gave up a hit, walk and a run in the fourth.
Chadwick Tromp doubled and scored, and Jaylinn Davis singled and scored twice for the Giants.
The abbreviated summer camp concludes Tuesday as the two teams meet again at Oracle Park in San Francisco.
Kapler and several of his players elected to kneel during the national anthem prior to the game. The socially conscious manager announced his plan to kneel before the game, while encouraging his players to kneel or do whatever they were comfortable with.
“I wanted them to know that I wasn’t pleased with the way our country has handled police brutality, and I told them I wanted to amplify their voices and I wanted to amplify the voice of the Black community and marginalized communities, as well,” Kapler said.