Rodón critical of energy Giants: ‘Something has to change’ originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
PHOENIX — With two outs in the bottom of the fourth on Monday at Chase Field, Carlos Rodón threw an annoying two-strike slider that Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Jordan Luplow to check his swing. Rodón began to walk back to the dugout, pointing to indicate that he believed Luplow had punched. First base umpire Gabe Morales disagreed.
Rodón looked at Morales and muttered that Luplow had taken a full swing, then he did what he often does when he gets angry: he reached back for 148 mph. That pitch didn’t end the inning, but the next one did, and Rodón animatedly talked to himself all the way back to the dugout.
The sequence was reminiscent of the fire that came out of the other lefty that started Monday, Madison Bumgarner of Arizona. It was the kind of passion that has been largely lacking in recent months for a Giants team that lost 11 out of 14 after Monday 8-3 loss and is now only two games above .500.
It’s dangerous to play the game with body language, especially when you’re talking about the oldest roster in the league, one full of guys who are used to riding the highs and lows of a 162 game season. But it’s no longer just outsiders who feel the Giants look listless.
Manager Gabe Kapler has been talking about the lack of energy in recent days and was open on Monday to discuss David Villar, a player Kapler hoped could bring a “ripple effect” of energy to the roster on his debut. Villar had two hits, but outside those at bats there was not much life on Monday and that was noticed by the man on the mound.
“I think something has to change,” said Rodón. “I think we play really bad baseball. You can say as much as you want, you know, but until we do something physically and change something, I don’t think we’ll see results.”
The Giants have not held team meetings or done anything major, although Kapler praised Brandon Belt for taking the lead at Monday’s usual batters meeting and talking about the need to focus more during each individual at bat. But that must also translate to the other side.
The Giants have been one of the worst defensive teams in baseball all season, and one game Monday represented another low. In a tie, Daulton Varsho scored all the way from first base on a sacrifice bunt after infielders lost sight of him and the throw from Wilmer Flores sailed to third base. The Diamondbacks never got behind.
The Giants went 17-2 against Arizona last season, a big reason why they won the NL West, but right now there is no team that isn’t a challenge. After a 2-6 homestand against three teams under .500, they started their road trip with another dud.
Kapler has mostly remained optimistic, but there is only so much hope you can bring out when your team plays like this.
“I think things have a chance to change very quickly,” he said. “They only have that chance if we’re really diligent in our work every day (and) we don’t get too high or too low. This was a really hard stretch and I think we got a decent kick in the ass. bit, But we’re still in a position where we can play baseball much better and do that very quickly if we come to work every day and we are focused on our work and our energy levels are high.”
The work ethic was there during Monday afternoon battle practice, even on a 100 degree day in the desert. But once the game started, it was more of the same. Rodón said he sees a team that “needs to play with a little more fire”.
That is the natural state for Rodón, but not for many of these giants. It’s a group that is cool, calm and collected, but right now they are quietly playing baseball that is hard to see.
“It’s absolutely frustrating,” said Rodón. “I think we would all like to play better and see different results. Sometimes I tend to express some frustration and sometimes we need it and sometimes we don’t, but I think something has to change now.”